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Title: The Atlantic Book of Modern Plays
Author: Gregory, Lady, 1852-1932 [Contributor], Synge, J. M. (John Millington), 1871-1909 [Contributor], Brighouse, Harold, 1882-1958 [Contributor], Dunsany, Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Baron, 1878-1957 [Contributor], Middleton, George, 1880-1967 [Contributor], O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953 [Contributor], Galsworthy, John, 1867-1933 [Contributor], Yeats, W. B. (William Butler), 1856-1939 [Contributor], Bottomley, Gordon, 1874-1948 [Contributor], Mackaye, Percy, 1875-1956 [Contributor], Dix, Beulah Marie, 1876-1970 [Contributor], Chapin, Harold, 1886-1915 [Contributor], Parkhurst, Winthrop [Contributor], Saunders, Louise [Contributor], Ferguson, J. A. [Contributor], Leonard, Sterling Andrus, 1888-1931 [Editor]
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Edited with Introduction, Comment
and Annotated Bibliography

Sterling Andrus Leonard

_Department of English
The University of Wisconsin and
The Wisconsin High School_

The Atlantic Monthly Press

_The rights of production of these plays are in every case
reserved by the authors or their representatives. No play can be
given publicly without an individual arrangement. The law does
not, of course, prevent their reading in classrooms or their
production before an audience of a school or invited guests where
no fee is charged; but it is, naturally, more courteous to ask


The Atlantic Monthly Press

First impression, December, 1921
Second impression, April, 1922
Third impression, October, 1922

_Printed in the United States of America_







THE BEGGAR AND THE KING _Winthrop Parkhurst_

TIDES _George Middleton_

ILE _Eugene O'Neill_


THE SUN _John Galsworthy_

THE KNAVE OF HEARTS _Louise Saunders_

FAME AND THE POET _Lord Dunsany_


GETTYSBURG _Percy Mackaye_

LONESOME-LIKE _Harold Brighouse_

RIDERS TO THE SEA _John Millington Synge_

THE LAND OF HEART'S DESIRE _William Butler Yeats_

RIDING TO LITHEND _Gordon Bottomley_





We are at present in the midst of a bewildering quantity of
play-publication and production. The one-act play in particular,
chiefly represented in this volume, appears to be taking the
place of that rather squeezed sponge, the short story, in the
favor of the reading public. Of course, this tendency has its
reaction in schoolrooms. One even hears of high-school classes
which attempt to keep up with the entire output of such dramas in
English readings. If this is not merely an apologue, it is
certainly a horrible example. The bulk of current drama, as of
published matter generally, is not worthy the time of the English
class. Only what is measurably of rank, in truth and fineness,
with the literature which has endured from past times can be
defended for use there. And we have too much that is both well
fitted to young people's keen interest and enjoyment, and
beautifully worthy as well, for time to be wasted upon the third-
and fourth-rate.

Obviously, much of the best in modern play-writing has not been
included in this volume. Because of copyright complications the
works of Mr. Masefield, Mr. Shaw, Mr. Drinkwater, and Sir James
Barrie are not here represented. The plays by these writers that
seem best fitted to use by teachers and pupils in high schools,
together with a large number of other dramas for this purpose,
are listed and annotated at the back of the book. Suggestions as
to desirable inclusions and omissions will be welcomed by the
editor and the publishers.

Following in their own way the lead of the Théâtre Libre in Paris
and the Freie Bühne in Germany, and of the Independent and the
Repertory theatres in Great Britain, numerous "little theatres"
and drama associations in this country are giving impulsion and
direction to the movement for finer drama and more excellent
presentation. The Harvard dramatic societies, the Morningside
Players at Columbia, Mr. Alex Drummond's Community Theatre at the
State Fair in Ithaca, the Little Country Theatre at Fargo, South
Dakota, and similar groups at the University of California and
elsewhere, illustrate the leadership of the colleges. In many
high schools, as at South Bend, Indiana, more or less complete
Little Theatres are active. The Chicago Little Theatre, the
Wisconsin Dramatic Society, the Provincetown Players, the
Neighborhood Playhouse, in New York, and others of that ilk, are
well known and influential. They are extending the tradition of
the best European theatres in their attempts to cultivate
excellent and individual expression in drama. They realize that
plays must be tested by actual performance,--though not
necessarily by the unnatural demands of success in competition
with Broadway revues and farce-melodramas,--and thus developed
toward a genuine artistic embodiment of the vast and varied life,
the manifold and deep idealism of this country.


For their courteous and generous cooperation the editor is
greatly indebted to the authors and publishers of all the plays
included. He is equally grateful to other dramatists who were
personally as cordial in intention but quite impotent to grant
copyright privileges. In addition, he has received most friendly
and cordial criticism from friends and friendly strangers to whom
he appealed--among others, from Mr. Harold Brighouse; Mr.
Theodore Hinckley, editor of "Drama"; Mr. Clarence Stratton, now
Director of English at Cleveland, and author of a forthcoming
book on the Little Theatre in this country; Mr. Allan Monkhouse,
author of "Mary Broome" and "War Plays"; Professor Allan Abbot,
of Teachers College, Columbia University; Mr. Frank G. Thompkins,
of Central High School, Detroit; Mrs. Mary Austin; Professor Earl
B. Pence, of De Pauw University; Professor Brander Matthews; and
Mrs. Alice Chapin. Indebtedness to many lists is obvious,
particularly to that of the Drama League and the National Council
of Teachers of English, and that of Professor Pence in the
"Illinois Bulletin."

"Ile" is reprinted by special arrangement with the author and
with Boni and Liveright, publishers, New York. "Ile" is reprinted
from the volume "The Moon of The Caribbees" and six other plays
of the sea, which volume is one of the series of plays by Mr.
O'Neill, the series including "Beyond the Horizon," a drama in
four acts, "The Straw," a play in three acts and five scenes,
"Gold," a play in four acts and "Chris" a play in four acts.


The elder Dumas, who wrote many successful plays, as well as the
famous romances, said that all he needed for constructing a drama
was "four boards, two actors, and a passion." What he meant by
passion has been defined by a later French writer, Ferdinand
Brunetière, as a conflict of wills. The Philosopher of Butterbiggens,
whom you will meet early in this book, points out that "what you
are all the time wanting" is "your own way." When two strong
desires conflict and we wonder which is coming out ahead, we say
that the situation is dramatic. This clash is clearly defined in
any effective play, from the crude melodrama in which the forces
are hero and villain with pistols, to such subtle conflicts,
based on a man's misunderstanding of even his own motives and
purposes, as in Mr. Middleton's "Tides."

In comedy, and even in farce, struggle is clearly present. Here
our sympathy is with people who engage in a not impossible
combat--against rather obvious villains who can be unmasked, or
against such public opinion or popular conventions as can be
overset. The hold of an absurd bit of gossip upon stupid people
is firm enough in "Spreading the News"; but fortunately it must
yield to facts at last. The Queen and the Knave of Hearts are
sufficiently clever, with the aid of the superb cookery of the
Knave's wife, to do away with an ancient and solemnly reverenced
law of Pompdebile's court. So, too, the force of ancient loyalty
and enthusiasm almost works a miracle in the invalid veteran of
"Gettysburg." And we feel sure that the uncanny powers of the
Beggar will be no less successful in overturning the power of the
King in Mr. Parkhurst's play.

Again, in comedies as in mathematics, the problem is often solved
by substitution. The soldier in Mr. Galsworthy's "The Sun" is
able to find a satisfactory and apparently happy ending without
achieving what he originally set out to gain. And the same is
true of Jock in Mr. Brighouse's "Lonesome-Like." Or the play
which does not end as the chief character wishes may still prove
not too serious because, as in "Fame and the Poet," the situation
is merely inconvenient and absurd rather than tragic. Now and
then it is next to impossible to tell whether the ending is
tragic or not; in the "Land of Heart's Desire" we must first
decide whether our sympathies are more with Shawn Bruin and with
Maire's love for him, or with her keen desire to go

  To where the woods, the stars, and the white streams
  Are holding a continual festival.

It is natural for us to desire a happy ending in stories, as we
desire satisfying solutions of the problems in our own lives. And
whenever the forces at work are such as make it true and possible,
naturally this is the best ending for a story or a play. But where
powerful and terrible influences have to be combated, only a poor
dramatist will make use of mere chance, or compel his characters
to do what such people really would not do, to bring about a
factitious "happy ending." With the relentless, mighty arms of
England engaged in hunting the defeated Highlanders after the
Battle of Culloden, a play like "Campbell of Kilmhor," in which we
sympathize with the ill-fated Stewarts, cannot end happily. If
they had yielded under pressure and betrayed their comrades, we
might have pitied them, but we could not admire their action, and
there would have been no strong conclusion. In "Riders to the
Sea," where the characters are compelled by bitter poverty to face
the relentless forces of storm and sea, and in "The Biding to
Lithend," we expect a tragic end almost from the first lines of
the play. We recognize this same dramatic tensity of hopeless
conflict in many stories as well as plays; it is most powerful in
three or four novels by George Eliot, George Meredith, and Thomas

One of the best ways to understand these as real stage plays is
through some sort of dramatization. This does not mean, however,
that they need be produced with elaborate scenery and costumes,
memorizing, and rehearsal; often the best understanding may be
secured by quite informal reading in the class, with perhaps a hat
and cloak and a lath sword or two for properties. With simply a
clear space in the classroom for a stage, you and your
imaginations can give all the performance necessary for realizing
these plays very well indeed. But, of course, you must clearly
understand the lines and the play as a whole before you try to
take a part, so that you can read simply and naturally, as you
think the people in the story probably spoke. Some questions for
discussion in the appendix may help you in talking the plays over
in class or in reading them for yourself before you try to take a
part. You will find it sometimes helps, also, to make a diagram or
a colored sketch of the scene as the author describes it, or even
a small model of the stage for a "dramatic museum" for your
school. If you have not tried this, you do not know how much it
helps in seeing plays of other times, like Shakespeare's or
Molière's; and it is useful also for modern dramas. Such small
stages can be used for puppet theatres as well. "The Knave of
Hearts" is intended as a marionette play, and other
dramas--Maeterlinck's and even Shakespeare's--have been given in
this way with very interesting effects.

If you bring these plays to a performance for others outside your
own class, you will find that the simplest and least pretentious
settings are generally most effective. The Irish players, as Mr.
Yeats tells us, "have made scenery, indeed, but scenery that is
little more than a suggestion--a pattern with recurring boughs and
leaves of gold for a wood, a great green curtain, with a red
stencil upon it to carry the eye upward, for a palace." Mr. John
Merrill of the Francis Parker School describes the quite excellent
results secured with a dark curtain in a semicircle--a
cyclorama--for background, and with colored lights.[1] Such a
staging leaves the attention free to follow the lines, and the
imagination to picture whatever the play suggests as the place of
the action.

[Footnote 1: John Merrill: "Drama and the School," in _Drama_,
November, 1919.]


Harold Chapin

[Footnote 1: Included by special permission of Mrs. Alice Chapin.
Permission to present this play must be secured from Samuel
French, 28 West 38th Street, New York City, who controls all
acting rights, etc., in this country.]


JOHN BELL, his son-in-law
ALEXANDER, John's little son

SCENE: JOHN BELL'S _tenement at Butterbiggens. It consists of the
very usual "two rooms, kitchen, and bath," a concealed bed in the
parlor and another in the kitchen enabling him to house his
family--consisting of himself, his wife, his little son, and his
aged father-in-law--therein. The kitchen-and-living-room is a
good-sized square room. The right wall (our right as we look at
it) is occupied by a huge built-in dresser, sink, and coal bunker,
the left wall by a high-manteled, ovened, and boilered fireplace,
the recess on either side of which contains a low painted
cupboard. Over the far cupboard hangs a picture of a ship, but
over the near one is a small square window. The far wall has two
large doors in it, that on the right leading to the lobby, and
that on the left appertaining to the old father-in-law's concealed
bed. The walls are distempered a brickish red. The ceiling once
was white. The floor is covered with bright linoleum and a couple
of rag rugs--one before the fire--a large one--and a smaller one
before the door of the concealed bed._

_A deal table is just to right of centre. A long flexible
gas-bracket depends from the ceiling above it. Another
many-jointed gas-bracket projects from the middle of the high
mantelpiece, its flame turned down towards the stove. There are
wooden chairs at the table, above, below, and to left of it. A
high-backed easy chair is above the fire, a kitchen elbow-chair
below it._

_The kitchen is very tidy. A newspaper newly fallen to the rug
before the fire and another--an evening one--spread flat on the
table are (besides a child's mug and plate, also on the table)
the only things not stowed in their prescribed places. It is
evening--the light beyond the little square window being the gray
dimness of a long Northern twilight which slowly deepens during
the play. When the curtain rises it is still light enough in the
room for a man to read if the print be not too faint and his eyes
be good. The warm light of the fire leaps and flickers through
the gray, showing up with exceptional clearness the deep-lined
face of old DAVID PIRNIE, who is discovered half-risen from his
armchair above the fire, standing on the hearth-rug, his body
bent and his hand on the chair arm. He is a little, feeble old
man with a well-shaped head and weather-beaten face, set off by a
grizzled beard and whiskers, wiry and vigorous, in curious
contrast to the wreath of snowy hair that encircles his head. His
upper lip is shaven. He wears an old suit--the unbuttoned
waistcoat of which shows an old flannel shirt. His slippers are
low at the heel and his socks loose at the ankles._

_The old man's eyes are fixed appealingly on those of his
daughter, who stands in the half-open door, her grasp on the
handle, meeting his look squarely--a straight-browed,
black-haired, determined young woman of six or seven and twenty.
Her husband_, JOHN, _seated at the table in his shirt-sleeves with
his head in his hands, reads hard at the paper and tries to look

DAVID. Aw--but, Lizzie--

LIZZIE (_with splendid firmness_). It's nae use, feyther. I'm no'
gaein' to gie in to the wean. Ye've been tellin' yer stories to
him nicht after nicht for dear knows how long, and he's gettin'
to expect them.

DAVID. Why should he no' expect them?

LIZZIE. It disna do for weans to count on things so. He's layin'
up a sad disappointment for himself yin o' these days.

DAVID. He's gettin' a sad disappointment the noo. Och, come on,
Lizzie. I'm no' gaein' to dee just yet, an' ye can break him off
gradually when I begin to look like to.

LIZZIE. Who's talkin' o' yer deein', feyther?

DAVID. Ye were speakin' o' the disappointment he was layin' up
for himself if he got to count on me--

LIZZIE. I wasna thinkin' o' yer deein', feyther--only--it's no
guid for a bairn--

DAVID. Where's the harm in my giein' him a bit story before he
gangs tae his bed?

LIZZIE. I'm no sayin' there's ony harm in it this yinst, feyther;
but it's no richt to gae on nicht after nicht wi' never a break--

DAVID. Whit wey is it no richt if there's nae harm in it?

LIZZIE. It's giein' in to the wean.

DAVID. Whit wey should ye no' gie in to him if there's nae harm
in it?

LIZZIE (_keeping her patience with difficulty_). Because it gets
him into the habit.

DAVID. But why should he no' get into the habit if there's nae
harm in it?

(_John at the table chuckles. Lizzie gives him a look, but he
meets it not._)

LIZZIE. Really, feyther, ye micht be a wean yerself, ye're that

DAVID. No, Lizzie, I'm no' persistent, I'm reasoning wi' ye. Ye
said there was nae harm in my tellin' him a bit story, an' now ye
say I'm not to because it'll get him into the habit; an' what I'm
askin' ye is, where's the harm o' his gettin' into the habit if
there's nae harm in it?

LIZZIE. Oh, aye; ye can be gey clever, twistin' the words in my
mouth, feyther; but richt is richt, an' wrang's wrang, for all
yer cleverness.

DAVID (_earnestly_). I'm no bein' clever ava, Lizzie,--no' the
noo,--I'm just tryin' to make ye see that, if ye admit there's
nae harm in a thing, ye canna say there's ony harm in it, an'
(_pathetically_) I'm wantin' to tell wee Alexander a bit story
before he gangs to his bed.

JOHN (_aside to her_). Och, wumman--

LIZZIE. T'ts, John; ye'd gie in tae onybody if they were just
persistent enough.

JOHN. He's an auld man.

LIZZIE (_really exasperated_). I ken fine he's an auld man, John,
and ye're a young yin, an' Alexander's gaein' to be anither, an'
I'm a lone wumman among the lot o' ye, but I'm no' gaein' to gie
in to--

JOHN (_bringing a fresh mind to bear upon the argument_). Efter a',
Lizzie, there's nae harm--

LIZZIE (_almost with a scream of anger_). Och, now you've stairted,
have you? Harm. Harm. Harm. You're talkin' about harm, and I'm
talking about richt an' wrang. You'd see your son grow up a
drunken keelie, an' mebbe a thief an' a murderer, so long as you
could say there was nae harm in it.

DAVID (_expostulating with some cause_). But I cudna say there was
nae harm in that, Lizzie, an' I wudna. Only when there's nae

LIZZIE. Och. (_Exits, calling off to the cause of the trouble._)
Are ye in yer bed yet, Alexander?

(_Shuts door with a click._)

DAVID (_standing on hearth-rug and shaking his head more in sorrow
than in anger_). She's no reasonable, ye ken, John; she disna
argue fair. I'm no complaining o' her mither, but it's a wee
thing hard that the only twa women I've known to be really chatty
an' argumentative with should ha' been just like that. An' me
that fond o' women's society.

(_He lowers himself into his chair._)

JOHN. They're all like it.

DAVID (_judiciously_). I wudna go sae far as to say that, John. Ye
see, I've only kent they twa to study carefully--an' it's no fair
to judge the whole sex by just the twa examples, an' it
were--(_Running on_) But it's gey hard, an' I was wantin' to tell
wee Alexander a special fine story the nicht. (_Removes glasses
and blinks his eyes._) Aweel.

JOHN (_comforting_). Mebbe the morn--

DAVID. If it's no richt the nicht, it'll no be richt the morn's

JOHN. Ye canna say that, feyther. It wasna wrang last nicht.

DAVID (_bitterly_). Mebbe it was, an' Lizzie had no' foun' it out.

JOHN. Aw, noo, feyther, dinna get saurcastic.

DAVID (_between anger and tears, weakly_). I canna help it. I'm
black affrontit. I was wantin' to tell wee Alexander a special
fine story the nicht, an' now here's Lizzie wi' her richt's richt
an' wrang's wrang--Och, there's nae reason in the women.

JOHN. We has to gie in to them though.

DAVID. Aye. That's why.

(_There is a pause. The old man picks up his paper again and
settles his glasses on his nose. JOHN rises, and with a spill
from the mantelpiece lights the gas there, which he then bends to
throw the light to the old man's advantage._)

DAVID. Thank ye, John. Do ye hear him?

JOHN (_erect on hearth-rug_). Who?

DAVID. Wee Alexander.


DAVID. Greetin' his heart out.

JOHN. Och, he's no greetin'. Lizzie's wi' him.

DAVID. I ken fine Lizzie's wi' him, but he's greetin' for a' her.
He was wantin' to hear yon story o' the kelpies up to Cross Hill
wi' the tram--(_Breaking his mood impatiently_) Och.

JOHN (_crossing to table and lighting up there_). It's gettin' dark
gey early. We'll shin be haein' tea by the gas.

DAVID (_rustling his paper_). Aye--(_Suddenly_) There never was a
female philosopher, ye ken, John.

JOHN. Was there no'?

DAVID. No. (_Angrily, in a gust_) An'there never will be! (_Then
more calmly_) An' yet there's an' awful lot o' philosophy about
women, John.

JOHN. Aye?

DAVID. Och, aye. They're that unreasonable, an' yet ye canna
reason them down; an' they're that weak, an' yet ye canna make
them gie in tae ye. Of course, ye'll say ye canna reason doon a
stane, or make a clod o' earth gie in tae ye.

JOHN. Will I?

DAVID. Aye. An' ye'll be richt. But then I'll tell ye a stane
will na answer ye back, an' a clod of earth will na try to
withstand ye, so how can ye argue them down?

JOHN (_convinced_). Ye canna.

DAVID. Richt! Ye canna! But a wumman _will_ answer ye back, an'
she _will_ stand against ye, an' _yet_ ye canna argue her down
though ye have strength an' reason on your side an' she's talkin'
naething but blether about richt's richt an' wrang's wrang, an'
sendin' a poor bairn off t' his bed i' the yin room an' leavin'
her auld feyther all alone by the fire in anither an'--ye

(_He ceases to speak and wipes his glasses again. JOHN, intensely
troubled, tiptoes up to the door and opens it a foot. The wails
of ALEXANDER can be heard muffled by a farther door. JOHN calls

JOHN. Lizzie.

(_Lizzie immediately comes into sight outside the door with a

JOHN. Yer feyther's greetin'.

LIZZIE (_with a touch of exasperation_). Och, I'm no heedin'!
There's another wean in there greetin' too, an' I'm no heedin'
him neither, an' he's greetin' twicet as loud as the auld yin.

JOHN (_shocked_). Ye're heartless, wumman.

LIZZIE (_with patience_). No, I'm no' heartless, John; but there's
too much heart in this family, an' someone's got to use their

(DAVID _cranes round the side of his chair to catch what they
are saying. She stops and comes to him kindly but with womanly

LIZZIE. I'm vexed ye should be disappointed, feyther, but ye see,
don't ye--

(_A singularly piercing wail from ALEXANDER goes up. LIZZIE rushes
to silence him._)

LIZZIE. Mercy! The neighbors will think we're murderin' him.

(_The door closes behind her._)

DAVID (_nodding for a space as he revolves the woman's attitude_).
Ye hear that, John?

JOHN. Whit?

DAVID (_with quiet irony_). She's vexed I should be disappointed.
The wumman thinks she's richt! Women always think they're
richt--mebbe it's that that makes them that obstinate. (_With the
ghost of a twinkle_) She's feart o' the neighbors, though.

JOHN (_stolidly_). A' women are feart o' the neighbors.

DAVID (_reverting_). Puir wee man. I telt ye he was greetin', John.
He's disappointed fine. (_Pondering_) D' ye ken whit I'm thinkin',

JOHN. Whit?

DAVID. I'm thinkin' he's too young to get his ain way, an' I'm
too auld, an' it's a fine thocht!

JOHN. Aye?

DAVID. Aye. I never thocht of it before, but that's what it is.
He's no' come to it yet, an' I'm past it. (_Suddenly_) What's the
most important thing in life, John?

(JOHN _opens his mouth--and shuts it again unused._)

DAVID. Ye ken perfectly well. What is it ye're wantin' a' the

JOHN. Different things.

DAVID (_satisfied_). Aye--different things! But ye want them a', do
ye no'?

JOHN. Aye.

DAVID. If ye had yer ain way ye'd hae them a', eh?

JOHN. I wud that.

DAVID (_triumphant_). Then is that no' what ye want: yer ain way?

JOHN (_enlightened_). Losh!

DAVID (_warming to it_). That's what life is, John--gettin' yer ain
way. First ye're born, an' ye canna dae anything but cry; but
God's given yer mither ears an' ye get yer way by just cryin' for
it. (_Hastily, anticipating criticism_) I ken that's no exactly in
keeping with what I've been saying aboot Alexander--but a
new-born bairnie's an awfu' delicate thing, an' the Lord gets it
past its infancy by a dispensation of Providence very unsettling
to oor poor human understandings. Ye'll notice the weans cease
gettin' their wey by juist greetin' for it as shin as they're old
enough to seek it otherwise.

JOHN. The habit hangs on to them whiles.

DAVID. It does that. (_With a twinkle_) An' mebbe, if God's gi'en
yer neighbors ears an' ye live close, ye'll get yer wey by a
dispensation o' Providence a while longer. But there's things
ye'll hae to do for yerself gin ye want to--an' ye will. Ye'll
want to hold oot yer hand, an' ye will hold oot yer hand; an' ye
'll want to stand up and walk, and ye _will_ stand up and
walk; an' ye'll want to dae as ye please, and ye _will_ dae
as ye please; and then ye are practised an' lernt in the art of
gettin' yer ain way--and ye're a man!

JOHN. Man, feyther--ye're wonderful!

DAVID (_complacently_). I'm a philosopher, John. But it goes on

JOHN. Aye?

David. Aye: mebbe ye think ye'd like to make ither folk mind ye
an' yer way, an' ye try, an' if it comes off ye're a big man an'
mebbe the master o' a vessel wi' three men an' a boy under ye, as
I was, John. (_Dropping into the minor_) An then ye come doon the

JOHN (_apprehensively_). Doon the hill?

DAVID. Aye--doon to mebbe wantin' to tell a wean a bit story
before he gangs tae his bed, an' ye canna dae even that. An' then
a while more an' ye want to get to yer feet an' walk, and ye
canna; an' a while more an' ye want to lift up yer hand, an' ye
canna--an' in a while more ye're just forgotten an' done wi'.

JOHN. Aw, feyther!

DAVID. Dinna look sae troubled, John. I'm no' afraid to dee when
my time comes. It's these hints that I'm done wi' before I'm dead
that I dinna like.

JOHN. What'n hints?

DAVID. Well--Lizzie an' her richt's richt and wrang's wrang when
I think o' tellin' wee Alexander a bit story before he gangs tae
his bed.

JOHN (_gently_). Ye are a wee thing persistent, feyther.

DAVID. No, I'm no' persistent, John. I've gied in. I'm a
philosopher, John, an' a philosopher kens when he's done wi'.

JOHN. Aw, feyther!

DAVID (_getting lower and lower_). It's gey interesting,
philosophy, John, an' the only philosophy worth thinkin' about is
the philosophy of growing old--because that's what we're a' doing,
a' living things. There's nae philosophy in a stane, John; he's
juist a stane, an' in a hundred years he'll be juist a stane
still--unless he's broken up, an' then he'll be juist not a
stane, but he'll no' ken what's happened to him, because he didna
break up gradual and first lose his boat an' then his hoose, an'
then hae his wee grandson taken away when he was for tellin' him
a bit story before he gangs tae his bed.--It's yon losing yer
grip bit by bit and kennin' that yer losin' it that makes a
philosopher, John.

JOHN. If I kennt what ye meant by philosophy, feyther, I'd be
better able to follow ye.

(LIZZIE _enters quietly and closes door after her._)

JOHN. Is he asleep?

LIZZIE. No, he's no' asleep, but I've shut both doors, and the
neighbors canna hear him.

JOHN. Aw, Lizzie--

LIZZIE (_sharply_). John--

DAVID. Whit was I tellin' ye, John, about weans gettin' their ain
way if the neighbors had ears an' they lived close? Was I no'

LIZZIE (_answering for JOHN with some acerbity_). Aye, ye were
richt, feyther, nae doot; but we dinna live that close here, an'
the neighbors canna hear him at the back o' the hoose.

DAVID. Mebbe that's why ye changed Alexander into the parlor an'
gied me the bed in here when it began to get cold---

LIZZIE (_hurt_). Aw, no, feyther; I brought ye in here to be

DAVID (_placably_). I believe ye, wumman--(_with a faint
twinkle_)--but it's turned oot luckily, has it no'?

(_DAVID waits for a reply but gets none. LIZZIE fetches needlework
from the dresser drawer and sits above table. DAVID'S face and
voice take on a more thoughtful tone._)

DAVID (_musing_). Puir wee man! If he was in here you'd no' be
letting him greet his heart oot where onybody could hear him. Wud

LIZZIE (_calmly_). Mebbe I'd no'.

JOHN. Ye ken fine ye'd no', wumman.

LIZZIE. John, thread my needle an' dinna take feyther's part
against me.

JOHN (_surprised_). I'm no'.

LIZZIE. No, I ken ye're no meanin' to, but you men are that

(_She is interrupted by a loud squall from_ DAVID, _which he
maintains, eyes shut, chair-arms gripped, and mouth open, for
nearly half a minute, before he cuts it off abruptly and looks at
the startled couple at the table._)

LIZZIE. Mercy, feyther, whit's wrang wi' ye?

DAVID (_collectedly_). There's naethin' wrang wi' me, Lizzie,
except that I'm wantin' to tell wee Alexander a bit story--

LIZZIE (_firmly but very kindly_). But ye're no' goin' to--

(_She breaks off in alarm as her father opens his mouth
preparatory to another yell, which however he postpones to speak
to_ JOHN.)

DAVID. Ye mind whit I was saying aboot the dispensation o'
Providence to help weans till they could try for theirselves,

JOHN. Aye.

DAVID. Did it no' occur to ye then that there ought to be some
sort of dispensation to look after the auld yins who were past


DAVID. Aweel--it didna occur to me at the time--(_and he lets off
another prolonged wail_).

LIZZIE (_going to him_). Shsh! Feyther! The neighbors will hear

DAVID (_desisting as before_). I ken fine; _I'm_ no' at the
back of the hoose. (_Shorter wail._)

LIZZIE (_almost in tears_). They'll be coming to ask.

DAVID. Let them. They'll no'ask _me_. (_Squall._)

LIZZIE. Feyther--ye're no'behaving well. John--

JOHN. Aye?

LIZZIE (_helplessly_). Naething--feyther, stop it. They'll think
ye're clean daft.

DAVID (_ceasing to howl and speaking with gravity_). I ken it fine,
Lizzie; an' it's no easy for a man who has been respeckit an'
lookit up to a' his life to be thought daft at eighty-three; but
the most important thing in life is to get yer ain way. (_Resumes

LIZZIE (_puzzled, to_ JOHN). Whit's that?

JOHN. It's his philosophy that he was talking aboot.

DAVID (_firmly_). An' I'm gaein' to tell wee Alexander yon bit
story, tho' they think me daft for it.

LIZZIE. But it's no' for his ain guid, feyther. I've telt ye so,
but ye wudna listen.

DAVID. I wudna listen, wumman! It was you wudna listen to me when
I axed ye whit harm--(_Chuckles.--Checking himself_) No! I'm no
gaein' to hae that ower again. I've gied up arguing wi' women.
I'm juist gaein' tae greet loud an' sair till wee Alexander's
brought in here to hae his bit story; an' if the neighbors--(_Loud

LIZZIE (_aside to_ JOHN). He's fair daft!

JOHN (_aghast_). Ye'd no send him to--

LIZZIE (_reproachfully_). John!

(_A louder squall from the old man._)

LIZZIE (_beating her hands together distractedly_). He'll be
--We'll--He'll--Och!!! (_Resigned and beaten_) John, go and bring
wee Alexander in here.

(JOHN _is off like a shot. The opening of the door of the other
room can be told by the burst of_ ALEXANDER'S _voice. The old man's
wails have stopped the second his daughter capitulated. JOHN
returns with_ ALEXANDER _and bears him to his grandfather's waiting
knee. The boy's tears and howls have ceased and he is smiling
triumphantly. He is of course in his night-shirt and a blanket,
which Grandpa wraps round him, turning toward the fire._)

LIZZIE (_looking on with many nods of the head and smacks of the
lips_). There you are! That's the kind o' boy he is. Greet his
heart oot for a thing an' stop the moment he gets it.

DAVID. Dae ye expect him to gae on after he's got it? Ah, but,
Alexander, ye didna get it yer lane this time; it took the twa o'
us. An' hard work it was for the Auld Yin! Man! (_Playing

I doot I've enough voice left for a--(_Bursting out very loud
and making the boy laugh._) Aweel! Whit's it gaein' to be--eh?



Lady Gregory

[Footnote 1: Included by special permission of Lady Gregory and
of Messrs. G.P. Putnam's Sons, the publishers of _Seven Short
Plays_ (1909), and other volumes of Lady Gregory's works.
Application for acting rights must be made to Samuel French, 28
West 38th Street, New York City.]


JOE MULDOON, a policeman

SCENE: _The outskirts of a Fair. An Apple Stall._ MRS. TARPEY
_sitting at it._ MAGISTRATE _and_ POLICEMAN _enter._

MAGISTRATE. So that is the Fair Green. Cattle and sheep and mud.
No system. What a repulsive sight!

POLICEMAN. That is so, indeed.

MAGISTRATE. I suppose there is a good deal of disorder in this

POLICEMAN. There is.

MAGISTRATE. Common assault?

POLICEMAN. It's common enough.

MAGISTRATE. Agrarian crime, no doubt?

POLICEMAN. That is so.

MAGISTRATE. Boycotting? Maiming of cattle? Firing into houses?

POLICEMAN. There was one time, and there might be again.

MAGISTRATE. That is bad. Does it go any farther than that?

POLICEMAN. Far enough, indeed.

MAGISTRATE. Homicide, then! This district has been shamefully
neglected! I will change all that. When I was in the Andaman
Islands, my system never failed. Yes, yes, I will change all
that. What has that woman on her stall?

POLICEMAN. Apples mostly--and sweets.

MAGISTRATE. Just see if there are any unlicensed goods
underneath--spirits or the like. We had evasions of the salt tax
in the Andaman Islands.

POLICEMAN (_sniffing cautiously and upsetting a heap of apples_). I
see no spirits here--or salt.

MAGISTRATE (_to_ MRS. TARPEY). Do you know this town well, my good

MRS. TARPEY (_holding out some apples_). A penny the half-dozen,
your honor.

POLICEMAN (_shouting_). The gentleman is asking do you know the
town! He's the new magistrate!

MRS. TARPEY (_rising and ducking_). Do I know the town? I do, to be

MAGISTRATE (_shouting_). What is its chief business?

MRS, TARPEY. Business, is it? What business would the people here
have but to be minding one another's business?

MAGISTRATE. I mean what trade have they?

MRS. TARPEY. Not a trade. No trade at all but to be talking.

MAGISTRATE. I shall learn nothing here.

(JAMES RYAN _comes in, pipe in mouth. Seeing MAGISTRATE, he
retreats quickly, taking pipe from mouth._)

MAGISTRATE. The smoke from that man's pipe had a greenish look;
he may be growing unlicensed tobacco at home. I wish I had
brought my telescope to this district. Come to the post-office; I
will telegraph for it. I found it very useful in the Andaman

(MAGISTRATE _and_ POLICEMAN _go out left._)

MRS. TARPEY. Bad luck to Jo Muldoon, knocking my apples this way
and that way. (_Begins arranging them._) Showing off he was to the
new magistrate.


BARTLEY. Indeed it's a poor country and a scarce country to be
living in. But I'm thinking if I went to America it's long ago
the day I'd be dead!

MRS. FALLON. So you might, indeed.

(_She puts her basket on a barrel and begins putting parcels in
it, taking them from under her cloak._)

BARTLEY. And it's a great expense for a poor man to be buried in

MRS. FALLON. Never fear, Bartley Fallon, but I'll give you a good
burying the day you'll die.

BARTLEY. Maybe it's yourself will be buried in the graveyard of
Cloonmara before me, Mary Fallon, and I myself that will be dying
unbeknownst some night, and no one a-near me. And the cat itself
may be gone straying through the country, and the mice squealing
over the quilt.

MRS. FALLON. Leave off talking of dying. It might be twenty years
you'll be living yet.

BARTLEY (_with a deep sigh_). I'm thinking if I'll be living at the
end of twenty years, it's a very old man I'll be then!

MRS. TARPEY (_turns and sees them_). Good-morrow, Bartley Fallon;
good-morrow, Mrs. Fallon. Well, Bartley, you'll find no cause for
complaining to-day; they are all saying it was a good fair.

BARTLEY (_raising his voice_). It was not a good fair, Mrs. Tarpey.
It was a scattered sort of a fair. If we didn't expect more, we
got less. That's the way with me always: whatever I have to sell
goes down and whatever I have to buy goes up. If there's ever any
misfortune coming to this world, it's on myself it pitches, like
a flock of crows on seed potatoes.

MRS. FALLON. Leave off talking of misfortunes, and listen to Jack
Smith that is coming the way, and he singing.

(_Voice of JACK SMITH heard singing_)

  I thought, my first love,
    There'd be but one house between you and me.
  And I thought I would find
    Yourself coaxing my child on your knee.
  Over the tide
    I would leap with the leap of a swan.
  Till I came to the side
    Of the wife of the red-haired man!

(JACK SMITH _comes in; he is a red-haired man, and is carrying a

MRS. TARPEY. That should be a good song if I had my hearing.

MRS. FALLON (_shouting_). It's "The Red-haired Man's Wife."

MRS. TARPEY. I know it well. That's the song that has a skin on

(_She turns her back to them and goes on arranging her apples._)

MRS. FALLON. Where's herself, Jack Smith?

JACK SMITH. She was delayed with her washing; bleaching the
clothes on the hedge she is, and she daren't leave them, with all
the tinkers that do be passing to the fair. It isn't to the fair
I came myself, but up to the Five-Acre Meadow I'm going, where I
have a contract for the hay. We'll get a share of it into tramps

(_He lays down hayfork and lights his pipe._)

BARTLEY. You will not get it into tramps to-day. The rain will be
down on it by evening, and on myself too. It's seldom I ever
started on a journey but the rain would come down on me before
I'd find any place of shelter.

JACK SMITH. If it didn't itself, Bartley, it is my belief you
would carry a leaky pail on your head in place of a hat, the way
you'd not be without some cause of complaining.

(_A voice heard: "Go on, now, go on out o' that. Go on, I say."_)

JACK SMITH. Look at that young mare of Pat Ryan's that is backing
into Shaughnessy's bullocks with the dint of the crowd! Don't be
daunted, Pat, I'll give you a hand with her. (_He goes out,
leaving his hayfork._)

MRS. FALLON. It's time for ourselves to be going home. I have all
I bought put in the basket. Look at there, Jack Smith's hayfork
he left after him! He'll be wanting it. (_Calls_) Jack Smith! Jack
Smith!--He's gone through the crowd; hurry after him, Bartley,
he'll be wanting it.

BARTLEY. I'll do that. This is no safe place to be leaving it.
(_He takes up fork awkwardly and upsets the basket._) Look at that
now! If there is any basket in the fair upset, it must be our own
basket! (_He goes out to right._)

MRS. FALLON. Get out of that! It is your own fault, it is. Talk
of misfortunes and misfortunes will come. Glory be! Look at my
new egg-cups rolling in every part--and my two pound of sugar
with the paper broke--

MRS. TARPEY (_turning from stall_). God help us, Mrs. Fallon, what
happened your basket?

MRS. FALLON. It's himself that knocked it down, bad manners to
him. (_Putting things up_) My grand sugar that's destroyed, and
he'll not drink his tea without it. I had best go back to the
shop for more, much good may it do him!

(_Enter_ TIM CASEY.)

TIM CASEY. Where is Bartley Fallon, Mrs. Fallon? I want a word
with him before he'll leave the fair. I was afraid he might have
gone home by this, for he's a temperate man.

MRS. FALLON. I wish he did go home! It'd be best for me if he
went home straight from the fair green, or if he never came with
me at all! Where is he, is it? He's gone up the road (_jerks
elbow_) following Jack Smith with a hayfork.

(_She goes out to left._)

TIM CASEY. Following Jack Smith with a hayfork! Did ever anyone
hear the like of that. (_Shouts_) Did you hear that news, Mrs.

MRS. TARPEY. I heard no news at all.

TIM CASEY. Some dispute I suppose it was that rose between Jack
Smith and Bartley Fallon, and it seems Jack made off, and Bartley
is following him with a hayfork!

MRS. TARPEY. Is he now? Well, that was quick work! It's not ten
minutes since the two of them were here, Bartley going home and
Jack going to the Five-Acre Meadow; and I had my apples to settle
up, that Jo Muldoon of the police had scattered, and when I
looked round again Jack Smith was gone, and Bartley Fallon was
gone, and Mrs. Fallon's basket upset, and all in it strewed upon
the ground--the tea here--the two pound of sugar there--the
egg-cups there. Look, now, what a great hardship the deafness
puts upon me, that I didn't hear the commincement of the fight!
Wait till I tell James Ryan that I see below; he is a neighbor of
Bartley's; it would be a pity if he wouldn't hear the news!

(_She goes out. Enter_ SHAWN EARLY _and_ MRS. TULLY.)

TIM CASEY. Listen, Shawn Early! Listen, Mrs. Tully, to the news!
Jack Smith and Bartley Fallon had a falling out, and Jack knocked
Mrs. Fallon's basket into the road, and Bartley made an attack on
him with a hayfork, and away with Jack, and Bartley after him.
Look at the sugar here yet on the road!

SHAWN EARLY. Do you tell me so? Well, that's a queer thing, and
Bartley Fallen so quiet a man!

MRS. TULLY. I wouldn't wonder at all. I would never think well of
a man that would have that sort of a moldering look. It's likely
he has overtaken Jack by this.

(_Enter_ JAMES RYAN _and_ MRS. TARPEY.)

JAMES RYAN. That is great news Mrs. Tarpey was telling me! I
suppose that's what brought the police and the magistrate up this
way. I was wondering to see them in it a while ago.

SHAWN EARLY. The police after them? Bartley Fallen must have
injured Jack so. They wouldn't meddle in a fight that was only
for show!

MRS. TULLY. Why wouldn't he injure him? There was many a man
killed with no more of a weapon than a hayfork.

JAMES RYAN. Wait till I run north as far as Kelly's bar to spread
the news!

(_He goes out._)

TIM CASEY. I'll go tell Jack Smith's first cousin that is
standing there south of the church after selling his lambs.

(_Goes out._)

MRS. TULLY. I'll go telling a few of the neighbors I see beyond
to the west.

(_Goes out._)

SHAWN EARLY. I'll give word of it beyond at the east of the

(_Is going out when MRS. TARPEY seizes hold of him._)

MRS. TARPEY. Stop a minute, Shawn Early, and tell me did you see
red Jack Smith's wife, Kitty Keary, in any place?

SHAWN EARLY. I did. At her own house she was, drying clothes on
the hedge as I passed.

MRS. TARPEY. What did you say she was doing?

SHAWN EARLY (_breaking away_). Laying out a sheet on the hedge.

(_He goes._)

MRS. TARPEY. Laying out a sheet for the dead! The Lord have mercy
on us! Jack Smith dead, and his wife laying out a sheet for his
burying! (_Calls out_) Why didn't you tell me that before, Shawn
Early? Isn't the deafness the great hardship? Half the world
might be dead without me knowing of it or getting word of it at
all! (_She sits down and rocks herself._) O my poor Jack Smith! To
be going to his work so nice and so hearty, and to be left
stretched on the ground in the full light of the day!

(_Enter_ TIM CASEY.)

TIM CASEY. What is it, Mrs. Tarpey? What happened since?

MRS. TARPEY. O my poor Jack Smith!

TIM CASEY. Did Bartley overtake him?

MRS. TARPEY. O the poor man!

TIM CASEY. Is it killed he is?

MRS. TARPEY. Stretched in the Five-Acre Meadow!

TIM CASEY. The Lord have mercy on us! Is that a fact?

MRS. TARPEY. Without the rites of the Church or a ha'porth!

TIM CASEY. Who was telling you?

MRS. TARPEY. And the wife laying out a sheet for his corpse.
(_Sits up and wipes her eyes._) I suppose they'll wake him the same
as another?


MRS. TULLY. There is great talk about this work in every quarter
of the fair.

MRS. TARPEY. Ochone! cold and dead. And myself maybe the last he
was speaking to!

JAMES RYAN. The Lord save us! Is it dead he is?

TIM CASEY. Dead surely, and the wife getting provision for the

SHAWN EARLY. Well, now, hadn't Bartley Fallon great venom in him?

MRS. TULLY. You may be sure he had some cause. Why would he have
made an end of him if he had not? (_To MRS. TARPEY, raising her
voice_) What was it rose the dispute at all, Mrs. Tarpey?

MRS. TARPEY. Not a one of me knows. The last I saw of them, Jack
Smith was standing there, and Bartley Fallon was standing there,
quiet and easy, and he listening to "The Red-haired Man's Wife."

MRS. TULLY. Do you hear that, Tim Casey? Do you hear that, Shawn
Early and James Ryan? Bartley Fallon was here this morning
listening to red Jack Smith's wife, Kitty Keary that was!
Listening to her and whispering with her! It was she started the
fight so!

SHAWN EARLY. She must have followed him from her own house. It is
likely some person roused him.

TIM CASEY. I never knew, before, Bartley Fallon was great with
Jack Smith's wife.

MRS. TULLY. How would you know it? Sure it's not in the streets
they would be calling it. If Mrs. Fallon didn't know of it, and
if I that have the next house to them didn't know of it, and if
Jack Smith himself didn't know of it, it is not likely you would
know of it, Tim Casey.

SHAWN EARLY. Let Bartley Fallon take charge of her from this out
so, and let him provide for her. It is little pity she will get
from any person in this parish.

TIM CASEY. How can he take charge of her? Sure he has a wife of
his own. Sure you don't think he'd turn souper and marry her in a
Protestant church?

JAMES RYAN. It would be easy for him to marry her if he brought
her to America.

SHAWN EARLY. With or without Kitty Keary, believe me, it is for
America he's making at this minute. I saw the new magistrate and
Jo Muldoon of the police going into the post-office as I came
up--there was hurry on them--you may be sure it was to telegraph
they went, the way he'll be stopped in the docks at Queenstown!

MRS. TULLY. It's likely Kitty Keary is gone with him, and not
minding a sheet or a wake at all. The poor man, to be deserted by
his own wife, and the breath hardly gone out yet from his body
that is lying bloody in the field!

(_Enter_ MRS. FALLON.)

MRS. FALLON. What is it the whole of the town is talking about?
And what is it you yourselves are talking about? Is it about my
man Bartley Fallon you are talking? Is it lies about him you are
telling, saying that he went killing Jack Smith? My grief that
ever he came into this place at all!

JAMES RYAN. Be easy now, Mrs. Fallon. Sure there is no one at all
in the whole fair but is sorry for you!

MRS. FALLON. Sorry for me, is it? Why would anyone be sorry for
me? Let you be sorry for yourselves, and that there may be shame
on you forever and at the day of judgment, for the words you are
saying and the lies you are telling to take away the character of
my poor man, and to take the good name off of him, and to drive
him to destruction! That is what you are doing!

SHAWN EARLY. Take comfort now, Mrs. Fallon. The police are not so
smart as they think. Sure he might give them the slip yet, the
same as Lynchehaun.

MRS. TULLY. If they do get him, and if they do put a rope around
his neck, there is no one can say he does not deserve it!

MRS. FALLON. Is that what you are saying, Bridget Tully, and is
that what you think? I tell you it's too much talk you have,
making yourself out to be such a great one, and to be running
down every respectable person! A rope, is it? It isn't much of a
rope was needed to tie up your own furniture the day you came
into Martin Tully's house, and you never bringing as much as a
blanket, or a penny, or a suit of clothes with you, and I myself
bringing seventy pounds and two feather beds. And now you are
stiffer than a woman would have a hundred pounds! It is too much
talk the whole of you have. A rope is it? I tell you the whole of
this town is full of liars and schemers that would hang you up
for half a glass of whiskey (_turning to go_). People they are you
wouldn't believe as much as daylight from, without you'd get up
to have a look at it yourself. Killing Jack Smith indeed! Where
are you at all, Bartley, till I bring you out of this? My nice
quiet little man! My decent comrade! He that is as kind and as
harmless as an innocent beast of the field! He'll be doing no
harm at all if he'll shed the blood of some of you after this
day's work! That much would be no harm at all. (_Calls out_)
Bartley! Bartley Fallen! Where are you? (_Going out_) Did anyone
see Bartley Fallon?

(_All turn to look after her._)

JAMES RYAN. It is hard for her to believe any such a thing, God
help her!

(_Enter BARTLEY FALLON from right, carrying hayfork._)

BARTLEY. It is what I often said to myself, if there is ever any
misfortune coming to this world it is on myself it is sure to

(_All turn round and face him._)

BARTLEY. To be going about with this fork and to find no one to
take it, and no place to leave it down, and I wanting to be gone
out of this--Is that you, Shawn Early?

(_Holds out fork._) It's well I met you. You have no call to be
leaving the fair for a while the way I have, and how can I go
till I'm rid of this fork? Will you take it and keep it until
such time as Jack Smith--

SHAWN EARLY (_backing_). I will not take it, Bartley Fallon, I'm
very thankful to you!

BARTLEY (_turning to apple stall_). Look at it now, Mrs. Tarpey, it
was here I got it; let me thrust it in under the stall. It will
lie there safe enough, and no one will take notice of it until
such time as Jack Smith--

MRS. TARPEY. Take your fork out of that! Is it to put trouble on
me and to destroy me you want? putting it there for the police to
be rooting it out maybe.

(_Thrusts him back._)

BARTLEY. That is a very unneighborly thing for you to do, Mrs.
Tarpey. Hadn't I enough care on me with that fork before this,
running up and down with it like the swinging of a clock, and
afeard to lay it down in any place! I wish I'd never touched it
or meddled with it at all!

JAMES RYAN. It is a pity, indeed, you ever did.

BARTLEY. Will you yourself take it, James Ryan? You were always a
neighborly man.

JAMES RYAN (_backing_). There is many a thing I would do for you,
Bartley Fallon, but I won't do that!

SHAWN EARLY. I tell you there is no man will give you any help or
any encouragement for this day's work. If it was something
agrarian now--

BARTLEY. If no one at all will take it, maybe it's best to give
it up to the police.

TIM CASEY. There'd be a welcome for it with them surely!


MRS. TULLY. And it is to the police Kitty Keary herself will be

MRS. TARPEY (_rocking to and fro_). I wonder now who will take the
expense of the wake for poor Jack Smith?

BARTLEY. The wake for Jack Smith!

TIM CASEY. Why wouldn't he get a wake as well as another? Would
you begrudge him that much?

BARTLEY. Red Jack Smith dead! Who was telling you?

SHAWN EARLY. The whole town knows of it by this.

BARTLEY. Do they say what way did he die?

JAMES RYAN. You don't know that yourself, I suppose, Bartley
Fallon? You don't know he was followed and that he was laid dead
with the stab of a hayfork?

BARTLEY. The stab of a hayfork!

SHAWN EARLY. You don't know, I suppose, that the body was found
in the Five-Acre Meadow?

BARTLEY. The Five-Acre Meadow!

TIM CASEY. It is likely you don't know that the police are after
the man that did it?

BARTLEY. The man that did it!

MRS. TULLY. You don't know, maybe, that he was made away with for
the sake of Kitty Keary, his wife?

BARTLEY. Kitty Keary, his wife! (_Sits down bewildered._)

MRS. TULLY. And what have you to say now, Bartley Fallon?

BARTLEY (_crossing himself_). I to bring that fork here, and to
find that news before me! It is much if I can ever stir from this
place at all, or reach as far as the road!

TIM CASEY. Look, boys, at the new magistrate, and Jo Muldoon
along with him! It's best for us to quit this.

SHAWN EARLY. That is so. It is best not to be mixed in this
business at all.

JAMES RYAN. Bad as he is, I wouldn't like to be an informer
against any man.

(_All hurry away except_ MRS. TARPEY, _who remains behind her stall.

MAGISTRATE. I knew the district was in a bad state, but I did not
expect to be confronted with a murder at the first fair I came

POLICEMAN. I am sure you did not, indeed.

MAGISTRATE. It was well I had not gone home. I caught a few words
here and there that roused my suspicions.

POLICEMAN. So they would, too.

MAGISTRATE. You heard the same story from everyone you asked?

POLICEMAN. The same story--or if it was not altogether the same,
anyway it was no less than the first story.

MAGISTRATE. What is that man doing? He is sitting alone with a
hayfork. He has a guilty look. The murder was done with a

POLICEMAN (_in a whisper_). That's the very man they say did the
act, Bartley Fallon himself!

MAGISTRATE. He must have found escape difficult--he is trying to
brazen it out. A convict in the Andaman Islands tried the same
game, but he could not escape my system! Stand aside--Don't go
far--Have the handcuffs ready. (_He walks up to BARTLEY, folds his
arms, and stands before him._) Here, my man, do you know anything
of John Smith?

BARTLEY. Of John Smith! Who is he, now?

POLICEMAN. Jack Smith, sir--Red Jack Smith!

MAGISTRATE (_coming a step nearer and tapping him on the
shoulder_). Where is Jack Smith?

BARTLEY (_with a deep sigh, and shaking his head slowly_). Where is
he, indeed?

MAGISTRATE. What have you to tell?

BARTLEY. It is where he was this morning, standing in this spot,
singing his share of songs--no, but lighting his pipe--scraping a
match on the sole of his shoe--

MAGISTRATE. I ask you, for the third time, where is he?

BARTLEY. I wouldn't like to say that. It is a great mystery, and
it is hard to say of any man, did he earn hatred or love.

MAGISTRATE. Tell me all you know.

BARTLEY. All that I know--Well, there are the three estates;
there is Limbo, and there is Purgatory, and there is--

MAGISTRATE. Nonsense! This is trifling! Get to the point.

BARTLEY. Maybe you don't hold with the clergy so? That is the
teaching of the clergy. Maybe you hold with the old people. It is
what they do be saying, that the shadow goes wandering, and the
soul is tired, and the body is taking a rest--The shadow! (_Starts
up._) I was nearly sure I saw Jack Smith not ten minutes ago at
the corner of the forge, and I lost him again--Was it his ghost I
saw, do you think?

MAGISTRATE (_to_ POLICEMAN). Conscience-struck! He will confess all

BARTLEY. His ghost to come before me! It is likely it was on
account of the fork! I to have it and he to have no way to defend
himself the time he met with his death!

MAGISTRATE (_to_ POLICEMAN). I must note down his words. (_Takes out
notebook. To_ BARTLEY) I warn you that your words are being noted.

BARTLEY. If I had ha' run faster in the beginning, this terror
would not be on me at the latter end! Maybe he will cast it up
against me at the day of judgment--I wouldn't wonder at all at

MAGISTRATE (_writing_). At the day of judgment--

BARTLEY. It was soon for his ghost to appear to me--is it coming
after me always by day it will be, and stripping the clothes off
in the nighttime?--I wouldn't wonder at all at that, being as I
am an unfortunate man!

MAGISTRATE (_sternly_). Tell me this truly. What was the motive of
this crime?

BARTLEY. The motive, is it?

MAGISTRATE. Yes, the motive; the cause.

BARTLEY. I'd sooner not say that.

MAGISTRATE. You'd better tell me truly. Was it money?

BARTLEY. Not at all! What did poor Jack Smith ever have in his
pockets unless it might be his hands that would be in them?

MAGISTRATE. Any dispute about land?

BARTLEY (_indignantly_). Not at all! He never was a grabber or
grabbed from anyone!

MAGISTRATE. You will find it better for you if you tell me at

BARTLEY. I tell you I wouldn't for the whole world wish to say
what it was--it is a thing I would not like to be talking about.

MAGISTRATE. There is no use in hiding it. It will be discovered
in the end.

BARTLEY. Well, I suppose it will, seeing that mostly everybody
knows it before. Whisper here now. I will tell no lie; where
would be the use? (_Puts his hand to his mouth and MAGISTRATE
stoops._) Don't be putting the blame on the parish, for such a
thing was never done in the parish before--it was done for the
sake of Kitty Keary, Jack Smith's wife.

MAGISTRATE (_to_ POLICEMAN). Put on the handcuffs. We have been
saved some trouble. I knew he would confess if taken in the right

(POLICEMAN _puts on handcuffs._)

BARTLEY. Handcuffs now! Glory be! I always said, if there was
ever any misfortune coming to this place it was on myself it
would fall. I to be in handcuffs! There's no wonder at all in

(_Enter MRS. FALLON, followed by the rest. She is looking back at
them as she speaks._)

MRS. FALLON. Telling lies the whole of the people of this town
are; telling lies, telling lies as fast as a dog will trot!
Speaking against my poor respectable man! Saying he made an end
of Jack Smith! My decent comrade! There is no better man and no
kinder man in the whole of the five parishes! It's little
annoyance he ever gave to anyone! (_Turns and sees him._) What in
the earthly world do I see before me? Bartley Fallon in charge of
the police! Handcuffs on him! O Bartley, Bartley, what did you do
at all at all?

BAHTLEY. O Mary, there has a great misfortune come upon me! It is
what I always said, that if there is ever any misfortune--

MRS. FALLON. What did he do at all, or is it bewitched I am?

MAGISTRATE. This man has been arrested on a charge of murder.

MRS. FALLON. Whose charge is that? Don't believe them! They are
all liars in this place! Give me back my man!

MAGISTRATE. It is natural you should take his part, but you have
no cause of complaint against your neighbors. He has been
arrested for the murder of John Smith, on his own confession.

MRS. FALLON. The saints of heaven protect us! And what did he
want killing Jack Smith?

MAGISTRATE. It is best you should know all. He did it on account
of a love-affair with the murdered man's wife.

MRS. FALLON (_sitting down_). With Jack Smith's wife! With Kitty
Keary!--Ochone, the traitor!

THE CROWD. A great shame, indeed. He is a traitor, indeed.

MRS. TULLY. To America he was bringing her, Mrs. Fallon.

BAETLEY. What are you saying, Mary? I tell you--

MRS. FALLON. Don't say a word! I won't listen to any word you'll
say! (_Stops her ears._) Oh, isn't he the treacherous villain?
Ohone go deo!

BARTLEY. Be quiet till I speak! Listen to what I say!

MRS. FALLON. Sitting beside me on the ass car coming to the town,
so quiet and so respectable, and treachery like that in his

BARTLEY. Is it your wits you have lost, or is it I myself that
have lost my wits?

MRS. FALLON. And it's hard I earned you, slaving, slaving--and
you grumbling, and sighing, and coughing, and discontented, and
the priest wore out anointing you, with all the times you
threatened to die!

BARTLEY. Let you be quiet till I tell you!

MRS. FALLON. You to bring such a disgrace into the parish. A
thing that was never heard of before!

BARTLEY. Will you shut your mouth and hear me speaking?

MRS. FALLON. And if it was for any sort of a fine handsome woman,
but for a little fistful of a woman like Kitty Keary, that's not
four feet high hardly, and not three teeth in her head unless she
got new ones! May God reward you, Bartley Fallon, for the black
treachery in your heart and the wickedness in your mind, and the
red blood of poor Jack Smith that is wet upon your hand!

(_Voice of JACK SMITH heard singing_)

  The sea shall be dry,
    The earth under mourning and ban!
  Then loud shall he cry
    For the wife of the red-haired man!

BARTLEY. It's Jack Smith's voice--I never knew a ghost to sing
before. It is after myself and the fork he is coming! (_Goes back.
Enter_ JACK SMITH.) Let one of you give him the fork and I will be
clear of him now and for eternity!

MRS. TARPEY. The Lord have mercy on us! Red Jack Smith! The man
that was going to be waked!

JAMES RYAN. Is it back from the grave you are come?

SHAWN EARLY. Is it alive you are, or is it dead you are?

TIM CASEY. Is it yourself at all that's in it?

MRS. TULLY. Is it letting on you were to be dead?

MRS. FALLON. Dead or alive, let you stop Kitty Keary, your wife,
from bringing my man away with her to America!

JACK SMITH. It is what I think, the wits are gone astray on the
whole of you. What would my wife want bringing Bartley Fallon to

MRS. FALLON. To leave yourself, and to get quit of you she wants,
Jack Smith, and to bring him away from myself. That's what the
two of them had settled together.

JACK SMITH. I'll break the head of any man that says that! Who is
it says it? (_To_ TIM CASEY) Was it you said it? (_To_ SHAWN EARLY)
Was it you?

ALL TOGETHER (_backing and shaking their heads_). It wasn't I said

JACK SMITH. Tell me the name of any man that said it!

ALL TOGETHEB (_pointing to_ BARTLEY). It was _him_ that said

JACK SMITH. Let me at him till I break his head!

(BARTLEY _backs in terror. Neighbors hold_ JACK SMITH _back._)

JACK SMITH (_trying to free himself_). Let me at him! Isn't he the
pleasant sort of a scarecrow for any woman to be crossing the
ocean with! It's back from the docks of New York he'd be turned
(_trying to rush at him again_), with a lie in his mouth and
treachery in his heart, and another man's wife by his side, and
he passing her off as his own! Let me at him, can't you?

(_Makes another rush, but is held back._)

MAGISTRATE (_pointing to_ JACK SMITH). Policeman, put the handcuffs
on this man. I see it all now. A case of false impersonation, a
conspiracy to defeat the ends of justice. There was a case in the
Andaman Islands, a murderer of the Mopsa tribe, a religious

POLICEMAN. So he might be, too.

MAGISTRATE. We must take both these men to the scene of the
murder. We must confront them with the body of the real Jack

JACK SMITH. I'll break the head of any man that will find my dead

MAGISTRATE. I'll call more help from the barracks.

(_Blows POLICEMAN'S whistle._)

BARTLEY. It is what I am thinking, if myself and Jack Smith are
put together in the one cell for the night, the handcuffs will be
taken off him, and his hands will be free, and murder will be
done that time surely!


(_They turn to the right._)



Winthrop Parkhurst

[Footnote 1: Reprinted from Drama, No. 33, February, 1919, by
permission of Mr. Parkhurst and the editors of Drama.
Copyrighted, 1918, as a dramatic composition, by Winthrop
Parkhurst. All rights of production reserved by author.]



_A chamber in the palace overlooks a courtyard. The season is
midsummer. The windows of the palace are open, and from a
distance there comes the sound of a man's voice crying for bread._
THE KING _sits in a golden chair. A golden crown is on his head,
and he holds in his hand a sceptre which is also of gold. A_
SERVANT _stands by his side, fanning him with an enormous fan of
peacock feathers._

THE BEGGAR (_outside_). Bread. Bread. Bread. Give me some bread.

THE KING (_languidly_). Who is that crying in the street for bread?

THE SERVANT (_fanning_). O king, it is a beggar.

THE KING. Why does he cry for bread?

THE SERVANT. O king, he cries for bread in order that he may fill
his belly.

THE KING. I do not like the sound of his voice. It annoys me very
much. Send him away.

THE SERVANT (_bowing_). O king, he _has_ been sent away.

THE KING. If that is so, then why do I hear his voice?

THE SERVANT. O king, he has been sent away many times, yet each
time that he is sent away he returns again, crying louder than he
did before.

THE KING. He is very unwise to annoy me on such a warm day. He
must be punished for his impudence. Use the lash on him.

THE SERVANT. O king, it has been done.

THE KING. Then bring out the spears.

THE SEBVANT. O king, the guards have already bloodied their
swords many times driving him away from the palace gates. But it
is of no avail.

THE KING. Then bind him and gag him if necessary. If need be cut
out his tongue. I do not like the sound of the fellow's voice. It
annoys me very much.

THE SERVANT. O king, thy orders were obeyed even yesterday.

THE KING (_frowning_). No. That cannot be. A beggar cannot cry for
bread who has no tongue.

THE SERVANT. Behold he can--if he has grown another.

THE KING. What! Why, men are not given more than one tongue in a
lifetime. To have more than one tongue is treason.

THE SERVANT. If it is treason to have more than one tongue, O
king, then is this beggar surely guilty of treason.

THE KING (_pompously_). The punishment for treason is death. See to
it that the fellow is slain. And do not fan me so languidly. I am
very warm.

THE SERVANT (_fanning more rapidly_). Behold, O great and
illustrious king, all thy commands were obeyed even yesterday.

THE KING. How! Do not jest with thy king.

THE SERVANT. If I jest, then there is truth in a jest. Even
yesterday, O king, as I have told thee, the beggar which thou now
hearest crying aloud in the street was slain by thy soldiers with
a sword.

THE KING. Do ghosts eat bread? Forsooth, men who have been slain
with a sword do not go about in the streets crying for a piece of

THE SERVANT. Forsooth, they do if they are fashioned as this

THE KING. Why, he is but a man. Surely he cannot have more than
one life in a lifetime.

THE SERVANT. Listen to a tale, O king, which happened yesterday.

THE KING. I am listening.

THE SERVANT. Thy soldiers smote this beggar for crying aloud in
the streets for bread, but his wounds are already healed. They
cut out his tongue, but he immediately grew another. They slew
him, yet he is now alive.

THE KING. Ah! that is a tale which I cannot understand at all.

THE SERVANT. O king, it may be well.

THE KING. I cannot understand what thou sayest, either.

THE SERVANT. O king, that may be well also.

THE KING. Thou art speaking now in riddles. I do not like
riddles. They confuse my brain.

THE SERVANT. Behold, O king, if I speak in riddles it is because
a riddle has come to pass.

(THE BEGGAR'S _voice suddenly cries out loudly._)

THE BEGGAR (_outside_). Bread. Bread. Give me some bread.

THE KING. Ah! He is crying out again. His voice seems to me
louder than it was before.

THE SERVANT. Hunger is as food to the lungs, O king.

THE KING. His lungs I will wager are well fed. Ha, ha!

THE SERVANT. But alas! his stomach is quite empty.

THE KING. That is not my business.

THE SERVANT. Should I not perhaps fling him a crust from the

THE KING. No! To feed a beggar is always foolish. Every crumb
that is given to a beggar is an evil seed from which springs
another fellow like him.

THE BEGGAR (_outside_). Bread. Bread. Give me some bread.

THE SERVANT. He seems very hungry, O king.

THE KING. Yes. So I should judge.

THE SERVANT. If thou wilt not let me fling, him a piece of bread
thine ears must pay the debts of thy hand.

THE KING. A king can have no debts.

THE SERVANT. That is true, O king. Even so, the noise of this
fellow's begging must annoy thee greatly.

THE KING. It does.

THE SERVANT. Doubtless he craves only a small crust from thy
table and he would be content.

THE KING. Yea, doubtless he craves only to be a king and he would
be very happy indeed.

THE SERVANT. Do not be hard, O king. Thou art ever wise and just.
This fellow is exceedingly hungry. Dost thou not command me to
fling him just one small crust from the window?

THE KING. My commands I have already given thee. See that the
beggar is driven away.

THE SERVANT. But alas! O king, if he is driven away he will
return again even as he did before.

THE KING. Then see to it that he is slain. I cannot be annoyed
with the sound of his voice.

THE SERVANT. But alas! O great and illustrious king, if he is
slain he will come to life again even as he did before.

THE KING. Ah! that is true. But his voice troubles me. I do not
like to hear it.

THE SERVANT. His lungs are fattened with hunger. Of a truth they
are quite strong.

THE KING. Well, propose a remedy to weaken them.

THE SERVANT. A remedy, O king?

(_He stops fanning._)

THE KING. That is what I said. A remedy--and do not stop fanning
me. I am exceedingly warm.

THE SERVANT (_fanning vigorously_). A crust of bread, O king,
dropped from yonder window--forsooth that might prove a remedy.

THE KING (_angrily_). I have said I will not give him a crust of
bread. If I gave him a crust to-day he would be just as hungry
again to-morrow, and my troubles would be as great as before.

THE SERVANT. That is true, O king. Thy mind is surely filled with
great learning.

THE KING. Therefore, some other remedy must be found.

THE SERVANT. O king, the words of thy illustrious mouth are as
very meat-balls of wisdom.

THE KING (_musing_). Now let me consider. Thou sayest he does not
suffer pain--

THE SERVANT. Therefore he cannot be tortured.

THE KING. And he will not die--

THE SERVANT. Therefore it is useless to kill him.

THE KING. Now let me consider. I must think of some other way.

THE SERVANT. Perhaps a small crust of bread, O king--

THE KING. Ha! I have it. I have it. I myself will order him to

THE SERVANT (_horrified_). O king!

THE KING. Send the beggar here.


THE KING. Ha! I rather fancy the fellow will stop his noise when
the king commands him to. Ha, ha, ha!

THE SERVANT. O king, thou wilt not have a beggar brought into thy
royal chamber!

THE KING (_pleased with his idea_). Yea. Go outside and tell this
fellow that the king desires his presence.

THE SERVANT. O great and illustrious king, thou wilt surely not
do this thing. Thou wilt surely not soil thy royal eyes by
looking on such a filthy creature. Thou wilt surely not
contaminate thy lips by speaking to a common beggar who cries
aloud in the streets for bread.

THE KING. My ears have been soiled too much already. Therefore go
now and do as I have commanded thee.

THE SERVANT. O great and illustrious king, thou wilt surely not--

THE KING (_roaring at him_). I said, Go! (THE SERVANT, _abashed,
goes out._) Forsooth, I fancy the fellow will stop his bawling
when I order him to. Forsooth, I fancy he will be pretty well
frightened when he hears that the king desires his presence. Ha,
ha, ha, ha!

THE SERVANT (_returning_). O king, here is the beggar.

(_A shambling creature hung in filthy rags follows_ THE SERVANT
_slowly into the royal chamber._)

THE KING. Ha! A magnificent sight, to be sure. Art thou the
beggar who has been crying aloud in the streets for bread?

THE BEGGAR (_in a faint voice, after a slight pause_). Art thou the

THE KING. I am the king.

THE SERVANT (_aside to_ THE BEGGAR). It is not proper for a beggar
to ask a question of a king. Speak only as thou art spoken to.

THE KING (_to_ THE SERVANT). Do thou likewise. (_To_ THE BEGGAR) I
have ordered thee here to speak to thee concerning a very grave
matter. Thou art the beggar, I understand, who often cries aloud
in the streets for bread. Now, the complaint of thy voice annoys
me greatly. Therefore, do not beg any more.

THE BEGGAR (_faintly_). I--I do not understand.

THE KING. I said, do not beg any more.

THE BEGGAR. I--I do not understand.

THE SERVANT (_aside to_ THE BEGGAR). The king has commanded thee
not to beg for bread any more. The noise of thy voice is as
garbage in his ears.

THE KING (_to_ THE SERVANT). Ha! An excellent flower of speech. Pin
it in thy buttonhole. (_To_ THE BEGGAR) Thine ears, I see, are in
need of a bath even more than thy body. I said, _Do not beg any

THE BEGGAR. I--I do not understand.

THE KING (_making a trumpet of his hands and shouting_). _DO NOT

THE BEGGAR. I--I do not understand.

THE KING. Heavens! He is deafer than a stone wall.

THE SERVANT. O king, he cannot be deaf, for he understood me
quite easily when I spoke to him in the street.

THE KING (_to_ THE BEGGAR). Art thou deaf? Canst thou hear what I
am saying to thee now?

THE BEGGAR. Alas! I can hear every word perfectly.

THE KING. Fft! The impudence. Thy tongue shall be cut out for

THE SERVANT. O king, to cut out his tongue is useless, for he
will grow another.

THE KING. No matter. It shall be cut out anyway. (_To_ THE BEGGAR)
I have ordered thee not to beg any more in the streets. What
meanest thou by saying thou dost not understand?

THE BEGGAR. The words of thy mouth I can hear perfectly. But
their noise is only a foolish tinkling in my ears.

THE KING. Fft! Only a--! A lash will tinkle thy hide for thee if
thou dost not cure thy tongue of impudence. I, thy king, have
ordered thee not to beg any more in the streets for bread.
Signify, therefore, that thou wilt obey the orders of thy king by
quickly touching thy forehead thrice to the floor.

THE BEGGAR. That is impossible.

THE SERVANT (_aside to_ THE BEGGAR). Come. It is not safe to tempt
the patience of the king too long. His patience is truly great,
but he loses it most wondrous quickly.

THE KING. Come, now: I have ordered thee to touch thy forehead to
the floor.

THE SERVANT (_nudging him_). And quickly.

THE BEGGAR. Wherefore should I touch my forehead to the floor?

THE KING. In order to seal thy promise to thy king.

THE BEGGAR. But I have made no promise. Neither have I any king.

THE KING. Ho! He has made no promise. Neither has he any king.
Ha, ha, ha. I have commanded thee not to beg any more, for the
sound of thy voice is grievous unto my ears. Touch thy forehead
now to the floor, as I have commanded thee, and thou shall go
from this palace a free man. Refuse, and thou wilt be sorry
before an hour that thy father ever came within twenty paces of
thy mother.

THE BEGGAR. I have ever lamented that he did. For to be born into
this world a beggar is a more unhappy thing than any that I
know--unless it is to be born a king.

THE KING. Fft! Thy tongue of a truth is too lively for thy
health. Come, now, touch thy forehead thrice to the floor and
promise solemnly that thou wilt never beg in the streets again.
And hurry!

THE SERVANT (_aside_). It is wise to do as thy king commands thee.
His patience is near an end.

THE KING. Do not be afraid to soil the floor with thy forehead. I
will graciously forgive thee for that.

(THE BEGGAR _stands motionless._)

THE SERVANT. I said, it is not wise to keep the king waiting.

(THE BEGGAR _does not move._)

THE KING. Well? (_A pause._) _Well?_ (_In a rage_) _WELL?_

THE BEGGAR. O king, thou hast commanded me not to beg in the
streets for bread, for the noise of my voice offends thee. Now
therefore do I likewise command thee to remove thy crown from thy
forehead and throw it from yonder window into the street. For
when thou hast thrown thy crown into the street, then will I no
longer be obliged to beg.

THE KING. Fft! _Thou_ commandest _me!_ _Thou_, a
beggar from the streets, commandest _me_, a king, to remove
my crown from my forehead and throw it from yonder window into
the street!

THE BEGGAR. That is what I said.

THE KING. Why, dost thou not know I can have thee slain for such

THE BEGGAR. No. Thou canst not have me slain. The spears of thy
soldiers are as straws against my body.

THE KING. Ha! We shall see if they are. We shall see!

THE SERVANT. O king, it is indeed true. It is even as he has told

THE BEGGAR. I have required thee to remove thy crown from thy
forehead. If so be thou wilt throw it from yonder window into the
street, my voice will cease to annoy thee any more. But if thou
refuse, then thou wilt wish thou hadst never had any crown at
all. For thy days will be filled with a terrible boding and thy
nights will be full of horrors, even as a ship is full of rats.

THE KING. Why, this is insolence. This is treason!

THE BEGGAR. Wilt thou throw thy crown from yonder window?

THE KING. Why, this is high treason!

THE BEGGAR. I ask thee, wilt thou throw thy crown from yonder

THE SERVANT (_aside to_ THE KING). Perhaps it were wise to humor
him, O king. After thou hast thrown thy crown away I can go
outside and bring it to thee again.

THE BEGGAR. Well? Well? (_He points to the window._) Well?

THE KING. No! I will not throw my crown from that window--no, nor
from any other window. What! Shall I obey the orders of a beggar?

THE BEGGAR (_preparing to leave_). Truly, that is spoken like a
king. Thou art a king, so thou wouldst prefer to lose thy head
than that silly circle of gold that so foolishly sits upon it.
But it is well. Thou art a king. Thou couldst not prefer
otherwise. (_He walks calmly toward the door._)

THE KING (_to_ THE SERVANT). Stop him! Seize him! Does he think to
get off so easily with his impudence!

THE BEGGAR (_coolly_). One of thy servants cannot stop me. Neither
can ten thousand of them do me any harm. I am stronger than a
mountain. I am stronger than the sea!

THE KING. Ha! We will see about that, we will see about that. (_To_
THE SERVANT) Hold him, I say. Call the guards. He shall be put in

THE BEGGAR. My strength is greater than a mountain and my words
are more fearful than a hurricane. This servant of thine cannot
even touch me. With one breath of my mouth I can blow over this
whole palace.

THE KING. Dost thou hear the impudence he is offering me? Why
dost thou not seize him? What is the matter with thee? Why dost
thou not call the guards?

THE BEGGAR. I will not harm thee now. I will only cry aloud in
the streets for bread wherewith to fill my belly. But one day I
will not be so kind to thee. On that day my mouth will be filled
with a rushing wind and my arms will become as strong as steel
rods, and I will blow over this palace, and all the bones in thy
foolish body I will snap between my fingers. I will beat upon a
large drum and thy head will be my drumstick. I will not do these
things now. But one day I will do them. Therefore, when my voice
sounds again in thine ears, begging for bread, remember what I
have told thee. Remember, O king, and be afraid!

(_He walks out. THE SERVANT, struck dumb, stares after him. THE
KING sits in his chair, dazed._)

THE KING (_suddenly collecting his wits_). After him! After him! He
must not be allowed to escape! After him!

THE SERVANT (_faltering_). O king--I cannot seem to move.

THE KING. Quick, then. Call the guards. He must be caught and put
in chains. Quick, I say. Call the guards!

THE SERVANT. O king--I cannot seem to call them.

THE KING. How! Art thou dumb? Ah!

(THE BEGGAR'S _voice is heard outside._)

THE BEGGAR. Bread. Bread. Give me some bread.

THE KING. Ah. (_He turns toward the window, half-frightened, and
then, almost instinctively, raises his hands toward his crown,
and seems on the point of tossing it out the window. But with an
oath he replaces it and presses it firmly on his head._) How! Am I
afraid of a beggar!

THE BEGGAR (_continuing outside_). Bread. Bread. Give me some

THE KING (_with terrible anger_). Close that window!

(THE SERVANT _stands stupent, and the voice of THE BEGGAR grows
louder as the curtain falls._)


George Middleton

[Footnote 1: Reprinted by permission of the author and of Messrs.
Henry Holt and Company, the publishers, from the volume, _Masks
and Other One-Act Plays_ (1920).]


WILLIAM WHITE, a famous Internationalist
HILDA, his wife
WALLACE, their son

SCENE: _At the Whites'; spring, 1917. A simply furnished study.
The walls are lined with bookshelves, indicating, by their
improvised quality, that they have been increased as occasion
demanded. On these are stacked, in addition to the books
themselves, many files of papers, magazines, and "reports." The
large work-table, upon which rests a double student lamp and a
telephone, is conspicuous. A leather couch with pillows is
opposite, pointing toward a doorway which leads into the
living-room. There is also a doorway in back, which apparently
opens on the hallway beyond. The room is comfortable in spite of
its general disorder: it is essentially the workshop of a busy
man of public affairs. The strong sunlight of a spring day comes
in through the window, flooding the table._

WILLIAM WHITE _is standing by the window, smoking a pipe. He is
about fifty, of striking appearance: the visual incarnation of
the popular conception of a leader of men. There is authority and
strength in the lines of his face; his whole personality is
commanding; his voice has all the modulations of a well-trained
orator; his gestures are sweeping--for, even in private
conversation, he is habitually conscious of an audience.
Otherwise, he is simple and engaging, with some indication of his
humble origin._

_On the sofa opposite, with a letter in her hand,_ HILDA WHITE, _his
wife, is seated. She is somewhat younger in fact, though in
appearance she is as one who has been worn a bit by the struggle
of many years. Her manner contrasts with her husband's: her
inheritance of delicate refinement is ever present in her soft
voice and gentle gesture. Yet she, too, suggests strength--the
sort which will endure all for a fixed intention._

_It is obvious throughout that she and her husband have been happy
comrades in their life together, and that a deep fundamental bond
has united them in spite of the different social spheres from
which each has sprung._

WHITE (_seeing she has paused_). Go on, dear; go on. Let's hear all
of it.

HILDA. Oh, what's the use, Will? You know how differently he
feels about the war.

WHITE (_with quiet sarcasm_). But it's been so many years since
your respectable brother has honored me even with the slightest

HILDA. If you care for what he says--(_continuing to read the
letter_)--"Remember, Hilda, you are an American. I don't suppose
your husband considers that an honor; but I do."

WHITE (_interrupting_). And what kind of an American has he been in
times of peace? He's wrung forty per cent profit out of his
factory and fought every effort of the workers to organize. Ah,
these smug hypocrites!

HILDA (_reading_). "His violent opposition to America going in has
been disgrace enough--"

WHITE. But his war profits were all right. Oh, yes.

HILDA. Let me finish, dear, since you want it. (_Reading_) "--been
disgrace enough. But now that we're in, I'm writing in the faint
hope, if you are not too much under his influence, that you will
persuade him to keep his mouth shut. This country will tolerate
no difference of opinion now. You radicals had better get on
board the band wagon. It's prison or acceptance." (_She stops
reading._) He's right, dear. There will be nothing more
intolerant than a so-called democracy at war.

WHITE. By God! It's superb! Silence for twenty years and now he
writes his poor misguided sister for fear she will be further
disgraced by her radical husband.

HILDA. We mustn't descend to his bitterness.

WHITE. No: I suppose I should resuscitate the forgotten doctrine
of forgiving my enemies.

HILDA. He's not your enemy; he merely looks at it all

WHITE. I was thinking of his calm contempt for me these twenty
years--ever since you married me--"out of your class," as he
called it.

HILDA. Oh, hush, Will. I've been so happy with you I can bear him
no ill will. Besides, doesn't his attitude seem natural? You
mustn't forget that no man in this country has fought his class
more than you. That hurts--especially coming from an _acquired_

WHITE. Yes; that aggravates the offense. And I'll tell you
something you may not know. (_Bitterly_) Whenever I've spoken
against privilege and wealth it's been his pudgy, comfortable
face I've shaken my fist at. He's been so damned comfortable all
his life.

HILDA. (_She looks at him in surprise._) Why, Will, you surely
don't envy him his comfort, do you? I can't make you out. What's
come over you these last weeks? You've always been above such
personal bitterness; even when you were most condemned and
ridiculed. If it were anybody but you I'd think you had done
something you were ashamed of.

WHITE. What do you mean?

HILDA. Haven't you sometimes noticed that is what bitterness to
another means: a failure within oneself? (_He goes over to chair
and sits without answering._) I can think of you beaten by outside
things--that sort of failure we all meet; but somehow I can never
think of you failing yourself. You've been so brave and
self-reliant: you've fought so hard for the truth.

WHITE (_tapping letter_). But he thinks he knows the truth, too.

HILDA. He's also an intense nature.

WHITE (_thoughtfully after a pause_). Yet there is _some_
truth in what he says.

HILDA (_smiling_). But you didn't like it--coming from him?

WHITE. It will be different with you and me now that America's
gone in.

HILDA. Yes. It will be harder for us here; for hate is always
farthest from the trenches. But you and I are not the sort who
would compromise to escape the persecution which is the resource
of the non-combatant.

(_The phone rings: he looks at his watch._)

WHITE. That's for me.

HILDA. Let me. (_She goes._) It may be Wallace. (_At phone_) Yes:
this is 116 Chelsea. Long Distance? (_He starts as she says to
him_) It must be our boy. (_At phone_) Who? Oh--Mr. William White?
Yes: he'll be here. (_She hangs up receiver._) She'll ring when she
gets the connection through.

WHITE (_turning away_). It takes so long these days.

HILDA. Funny he didn't ask for me.

WHITE. What made you think it was Wallace?

HILDA. I took it for granted. He must be having a hard time at
college with all the boys full of war fever.

WHITE. And a father with my record.

HILDA. He should be proud of the example. He has more than other
boys to cling to these days when everybody is losing his head as
the band plays and the flag is waved. He won't be carried away by
it. He'll remember all we taught him. Ah, Will, when I think we
now have conscription--as they have in Germany--I thank God every
night our boy is too young for the draft.

WHITE. But when his time comes what will he do?

HILDA (_calmly_). He will do it with courage.

WHITE (_referring to her brother's letter_). Either prison or

HILDA. I would rather have my son in prison than have him do what
he felt was wrong. Wouldn't you?

WHITE (_evasively_). We won't have to face that problem for two

HILDA. And when it comes--if he falters--I'll give him these
notes of that wonderful speech you made at the International
Conference in 1910. (_Picking it up_) I was looking through it only
this morning.

WHITE (_troubled_). Oh, that speech.

HILDA (_glancing through it with enthusiasm_). "All wars are
imperialistic in origin. Do away with overseas investments, trade
routes, private control of ammunition factories, secret

WHITE. Don't you see that's all dead wood?

HILDA (_not heeding him_). This part gave me new strength when I
thought of Wallace. (_Reading with eloquence_) "War will stop when
young men put Internationalism above Nationality, the law of God
above the dictates of statesmen, the law of love above the law of
hate, the law of self-sacrifice above the law of profit. There
must be no boundaries in man's thought. Let the young men of the
world once throw down their arms, let them once refuse to point
their guns at human hearts, and all the boundaries of the world
will melt away and peace will find a resting-place in the hearts
of men!"

WHITE (_taking it from her_). And I made you believe it! What silly
prophets we radicals were. (_He tears it up._) Mere scraps of
paper, dear; scraps of paper, now.

HILDA. But it was the truth; it still is the truth.

WHITE. Hilda, there's something I want to talk over very, very
seriously with you. I've been putting it off.

HILDA. Yes, dear? (_The outer door is heard to bang._) Listen:
wasn't that the front door?

WHITE. Perhaps it's the maid?

HILDA (_a bit nervously_). No: she's upstairs. No one rang. Please

WHITE (_smiling_). Now don't worry! It can't possibly be the Secret

HILDA. One never knows in war times what to expect. I sometimes
feel I am in a foreign country.

(WHITE _goes slowly to the door in back and opens it._ WALLACE,
_their son, with valise in hand, is standing there, as if he had
hesitated to enter._

_He is a fine clean-cut young fellow, with his father's physical
endowment and his mother's spiritual intensity. The essential
note he strikes is that of honesty. It is apparent he is under
the pressure of a momentous decision which has brought him
unexpectedly home from college._)

WHITE. Wallace!

WALLACE (_shaking hands_). Hello, Dad!

HILDA. Wallace! My boy!

(WALLACE _drops valise and goes to his mother's arms._)

WALLACE (_with deep feeling_). Mother!

WHITE (_after a pause_). Well, boy; this is unexpected. We were
just talking of you.

WALLACE. Were you?

HILDA. I'm so glad to see you, so glad.

WALLACE. Yes--yes--but--

WHITE. There's nothing the matter?

HILDA. You've had trouble at college?

WALLACE. Not exactly. But I couldn't stand it there. I've
left--for good.

WHITE. I was sure that would happen.

HILDA. Tell us. You know we'll understand.

WALLACE. Dad, if you don't mind, I'd like to talk it over with
mother first.

WHITE. Of course, old fellow, that's right. She'll stand by you
just as she's always stood by me--all these years. (_He kisses
her._) I--I--

(_He smooths her hair gently, looking into her eyes as she smiles
up at him._)

We mustn't let this war hurt all we've had together--you and I--

HILDA (_smiling and turning towards her son_). And Wallace.

WHITE. And Wallace. Yes. (WALLACE _looks away guiltily._) Let me
know when the phone comes.

(_He goes out hastily. She closes the door after him and then
comes to WALLACE, who has sat down, indicating he is troubled._)

HILDA. They made it hard for you at college?

WALLACE. I don't know how to tell you.

HILDA. I understand. The flag waving, the patriotic speeches, the
billboards advertising the glory of war, the call of adventure
offered to youth, the pressure of your friends--all made it hard
for you to be called a slacker.

WALLACE, No, mother. I wasn't afraid of what they could call me.
That was easy.

HILDA (_proudly_). You are your father's son!

WALLACE. Mother, I can't stand the thought of killing, you know
that. And I couldn't forget all you've told me. That's why I've
had to think this out all these months alone; why I've hesitated
longer than most fellows. The only thing I was really afraid of
was being wrong. But now I know I'm right and I'm going clean
through to the limit.

HILDA. As your father said, I 'll stand by you--whatever it
is--if only you feel it's right.

WALLACE. Will you? Will you, mother? No matter what happens? (_She
nods._) I knew you would. (_Taking her hand_) Then, mother, listen.
I've volunteered.

HILDA (_shocked_). Volunteered!

WALLACE. Yes. I leave for training-camp to-night.

HILDA. To-night?

WALLACE. Yes, mother. Once I made up my mind, I couldn't wait to
be drafted. I wanted to offer myself. I didn't want to be made to

HILDA (_hardly grasping it_). But you are too young.

WALLACE. I lied about my age. You and father can stop me if you
tell the truth. That's why I've come back. I want you to promise
you won't tell.

HILDA. _You_ ask me to aid you in what I don't believe?
WALLACE. But you said you'd stick by me if _I_ thought it
was right.

HILDA. But--

WALLACE (_with fervor_). And I tell you, mother, I do feel it was
right for America to go in. I see now we ought to have declared
war when they crushed Belgium. Yes; we ought to have gone in when
the Lusitania was sunk. But we've been patient. The President
tried to keep us out of it until we _had_ to go in to save
our self-respect. We had to go in to show we were men of honor,
not pussy-cats. We had to go in to show the world the Stars and
Stripes wasn't a dish-rag on which the Germans could dry their
bloody hands!

HILDA (_gazing at him incredulously_). You hate them as much as

WALLACE. Hate? No, mother, no. (_As if questioning himself_) I
really haven't any hate for the German _people_. People are
just people everywhere, I suppose, and they're tricked and fooled
by their rotten government, as the President says.

HILDA. Then why fight them?

WALLACE. Because they're standing back of their government, doing
what it says. And they've got to be licked to show them what kind
of a government they have.

HILDA. At least you have no hate in your heart--that's something.

WALLACE. Oh, yes, I have, mother. But it isn't for the poor
devils I've got to shoot. It's for the stay-at-home fellow here
in America who sits in a comfortable armchair, who applauds
patriotic sentiment, cheers the flag, and does nothing for his
country but hate and hate--while we fight for him. That's the
fellow I'll hate all right when I sit in the trenches. And that's
why I couldn't look myself in the face if I stayed out a day
longer; why I've got to go in; why I'm going to die if I must,
because _everybody_ ought to be willing to die for what he

HILDA. You are my son, _too_! For I would willingly have
died if it could have kept us out of this war.

WALLACE. Yes. I am your son, too. And that's why you wouldn't
respect me if I didn't go through.

HILDA. No. I wouldn't have respected you. But--but--(_She breaks
a bit, then controls herself._) You are quite sure you're doing
what's right?

WALLACE (_tenderly_). Would I have been willing to hurt you like

HILDA (_holding him close to her_). My boy; my boy!

WALLACE. It'll be all right, mother.

HILDA. Ah, yes. It will be all right. Nothing matters in time:
it's only the moments that hurt.

WALLACE (_after a pause_). Then you won't tell my real age, or

HILDA. I respect your right to decide your own life.

WALLACE (_joyed_). Mother!

HILDA. I respect your dedication; your willingness to sacrifice
for your beliefs. Why, Wallace, it would be a crime for me to
stand in your way--even with my mother's love. (_He kisses her._)
Do it all as cleanly as you can. I'll hope and pray that you'll
come back to me. (_Half breaking down and taking him in her arms_).
Oh, my boy; my boy. Let me hold you. You'll never know how hard
it is for a mother.

WALLACE (_gently_). But other mothers send their boys.

HILDA. Most of them believe in what their sons are fighting for.
Mothers have got to believe in it; or else how could they stand
the thought of bayonets stuck into the bodies they brought forth
in their own blood? (_There is a pause till she controls herself._)
I'll help you get your things together.

WALLACE. And father?

HILDA. He will be angry.

WALLACE. But you will make him understand?

HILDA. I'll try. Yet you must be patient with him if he doesn't
understand. Don't ever forget his long fight against all kinds of
Prussianism when you hear him reviled by those who have always
hated his radicalism and who, now, under the guise of patriotism,
are trying to render him useless for further attacks on them
after the war. He's been persecuted so by them--even back in the
days when our press was praising Germany and our distinguished
citizens were dining at the Emperor's table. Don't forget all
this, my boy. These days are hard for him--and me--harder perhaps
than for you who go out to die in glory and praise. There are no
flags for us, no music that stirs, no applause; but we too suffer
in silence for what we believe. And it is only the strongest who
can survive.--Now call your father.

WALLACE (_goes to door_). Dad! (_He leaves door open and turns to
his mother._) I'll be getting my things together. (_There is a
pause._ WHITE _enters._) Dad, mother has something to ask you. (_He
looks from father to mother._) Thanks, little mother.

(_He kisses her and goes out, taking the valise. His father and
mother stand facing each other._)

HILDA. Wallace has volunteered. (_He looks at her keenly._) He has
lied about his age. He wants us to let him go.

WHITE. Volunteered?

HILDA. Yes; he leaves to-night.

WHITE (_after a pause_). And what have you told him?

HILDA. That he must go.

WHITE. You can say that?

HILDA. It is the way he sees it.

WHITE (_going to her sympathetically_). Hilda.

HILDA (_looking up at him tenderly_). O Will, do you remember when
he was born? (_He soothes her._) And all we nursed him through
afterwards; and all we taught him; all we tried to show him about
war. (_With a shrug of her shoulders_) None of it has mattered.

WHITE. War is stronger than all that.

HILDA. So we mustn't blame him. You won't blame him?

WHITE. He fears I will?

HILDA. He has always feared you a little, though he loves you
deeply. You mustn't oppose him, dear. You won't?

WHITE (_wearily_). Is there any use opposing anybody or anything
these days?

HILDA. We must wait till the storm passes.

WHITE. That's never been my way.

HILDA. No. You've fought all your life. But now we must sit
silent together and wait; wait for our boy to come back. Will,
think of it; we are going to have a boy "over there," too.

WHITE. Hilda, hasn't it ever struck you that we may have been all
wrong? (_She looks at him, as she holds his hand._) What could
these frail hands do? How could we poor little King Canutes halt
this tide that has swept over the world? Isn't it better, after
all, that men should fight themselves out; bring such desolation
upon themselves that they will be forced to see the futility of
war? May it not become so terrible that men--the workers, I
mean--will throw down their worn-out weapons of their own accord?
Won't permanent peace come through bitter experience rather than

HILDA (_touching the torn pages of his speech and smiling_). Here
is your answer to your own question.

WHITE. Oh, that was all theory. We're in now. You say yourself we
can't oppose it. Isn't it better if we try to direct the current
to our own ends rather than sink by trying to swim against it?

HILDA. Oh, yes; it would be easier for one who _could_

WHITE. But haven't we radicals been too intolerant of compromise?

HILDA. That has been _your_ strength. And it is your
strength I'm relying on now that Wallace--Shall I call him?

WHITE (_significantly_). No; wait.

HILDA (_apprehensive at his turn_). Oh, yes. Before he came you
said there was something--(_The phone rings. They both look at
it._) That's for you.

WHITE (_not moving_). Yes.

HILDA _hardly believing his attititde_). Is--is it private?

WHITE. No. Perhaps it will be easier this way. (_He hesitates,
then goes to phone as she stands expectant._) Yes. Yes. Long
Distance? Washington? (_Her lips repeat the word._) Yes. This is
William White. Hello. Yes. Is this the Secretary speaking? Oh, I
appreciate the honor of having you confirm it personally. Senator
Bough is chairman? At his request? Ah, yes; war makes strange
bedfellows. Yes. The passport and credentials? Oh, I'll be ready.
Yes. Good-bye.

(_He hangs up the receiver and looks at her._)

HILDA. You, too!

WHITE. I've been trying to tell you these last weeks; but I
couldn't somehow.

HILDA. You were ashamed?

WHITE. No, dear; only I knew it would hurt you.

HILDA. I'm not thinking of myself but of you. You are going to be
part of this war?

WHITE. I'm going to do what I can to help finish it.

HILDA. By compromising with the beliefs of a lifetime?

WHITE. No, dear; not that. I've accepted the appointment on this
commission because I'm going to accept facts.

HILDA. Have the facts of war changed, or is it you?

WHITE. Neither has changed; but I'm going to act differently. I'm
going to be part of it. Yes. I'm going to help direct the

HILDA. I can't believe what I am hearing. Is it you, William
White, speaking? You who, for twenty years, have stood against
all war!


HILDA. And now, when the test comes, you are going to lend
yourself to it! You of all men!

WHITE. Hilda, dear; I didn't expect you to accept it easily; but
I think I can make you see if you will let me.

HILDA (_poignantly_). If I will let you! Why, Will, I must
understand; I must.

WHITE. Perhaps it will be difficult at first--with your

HILDA. But my standards were yours, Will. You gave them to me.
You taught me. You took a young girl who loved you. You showed
her the truth, and she followed you and has followed you gladly
through hard years of struggle and poverty because of those
ideals. And now you talk of my standards! Will, don't you see, I
must understand?

WHITE. Dear, standards are relative things; they differ with

HILDA. Have your ideals only been old clothes you change to suit
the weather?

WHITE. It's the end we must keep in mind. I haven't changed or
compromised one bit in that. I'm working in changed conditions,
that's all; working with all my heart to do away with all war.

HILDA. By fighting one?

WHITE (_with eloquence_). Yes. Because it is necessary. I've come
to see we can't argue war out of the world with words. We've got
to beat it out of the world. It can't be done with our hands
lifted up in prayer; it can only be done with iron hands crushing
it down. War is the mood of the world. Well, I'm going to fight
in my fashion. And when it is over, I'm going to keep on
fighting; for the next war will be greater than this. It will be
economic revolution. It will be the war of capital and labor. And
I mean to be ready.

HILDA (_listening incredulously_). And to get ready you are willing
to link arms now with Senator Bough--a man you once called the
lackey of Wall Street--a man who has always opposed every
democratic principle.

WHITE. Yes. Don't you see the Government is beginning to realize
it can't do without us? Don't you see my appointment is an
acknowledgment of the rising tide of radicalism in the world?
Don't you see, with the prestige that will come to me from this
appointment, I will have greater power after the war; power to
bring about the realization of all our dreams; power to
demand--even at the Peace table itself, perhaps--that all wars
must end?

HILDA. Do you actually believe you will have any power with your
_own_ people when you have compromised them for a temporary

WHITE (_with a gesture_). The leader must be wiser than the people
who follow.

HILDA. So, contempt for your people is the first thing your new
power has brought you! (_He makes a gesture of denial._) You feel
you are above them--not of them. Do you believe for a moment that
Senator Bough has anything but contempt for you, too?

WHITE (_confidently_). He needs me.

HILDA. Needs you? Don't you understand why he had you appointed
on that committee? He wanted to get you out of the way.

WHITE. Isn't that an acknowledgment of my power?

HILDA. Yes. You're a great asset now. You're a "reformed"
radical. Why, Will, he'll use you in the capitals of Europe to
advertise his liberalism; just as the prohibitionist exhibits a
reformed drunkard.

WHITE. And I tell you, Hilda, after the war I shall be stronger
than he is, stronger than any of them.

HILDA. No man is strong unless he does what he feels is right.
No, no, Will; you've convicted yourself with your own eloquence.
You've wanted to do this for some reason. But it isn't the one
you've told me. No; no.

WHITE (_angrily_). You doubt my sincerity?

HILDA. No; only the way you have read yourself.

WHITE. Well, if you think I've tried to make it easy for myself
you are mistaken. Is it easy to pull out of the rut and habit of
years? Easy to know my friends will jeer and say I've sold out?
Easy to have you misunderstand? (_Goes to her._) Hilda, I'm doing
this for their good. I'm doing it--just as Wallace is--because I
feel it's right.

HILDA. No; you shouldn't say that. You are not doing this for the
same reason Wallace is. He believes in this war. He has accepted
it all simply without a question. If you had seen the look in his
eyes, you would have known he was a dedicated spirit; there was
no shadow, no doubt; it was pure flame. But you! You believe
differently! You can't hush the mind that for twenty years has
thought no war ever could henceforth be justified. You can't give
yourself to this war without tricking yourself with phrases. You
see power in it and profit for yourself. (_He protests._) That's
your own confession. You are only doing what is expedient--not
what is right. Oh, Will, don't compare your motives with those of
our son. I sent him forth, without a word of protest, because he
wishes to die for his own ideals: you are killing your own ideals
for the ideals of others! (_She turns away._) Oh, Will, that's what
hurts. If you were only like him, I--I could stand it.

WHITE (_quietly, after a pause_). I can't be angry at you--even
when you say such things. You've been too much a part of my life,
and work, and I love you, Hilda. You know that, don't you, dear?
(_He sits beside her and takes her hand._) I knew it would be
difficult to make you understand. Only once have I lacked
courage, and that was when I felt myself being drawn into this
and they offered me the appointment. For then I saw I must tell
you. You know I never have wanted to cause you pain. But when you
asked me to let Wallace go, I thought you would understand my
going, too.--Oh, perhaps our motives are different; he is young;
war has caught his imagination; but, I, too, see a duty, a way to
accomplish my ideals.

HILDA. Let's leave ideals out of this now. It's like bitter
enemies praying to the same God as they kill each other.

WHITE. Yes. War is full of ironies. I see that: Wallace can't.
It's so full of mixed motives, good and bad. Yes. I'll grant all
that. Only, America has gone in. The whole tide was against us,
dear. It is sweeping over the world: a brown tide of khaki
sweeping everything before it. All my life I've fought against
the current. (_Wearily_) And now that I've gone in, too, my arms
seem less tired. Yes; and except for the pain I've caused you,
I've never in all my life felt so--so happy.

(_Then she understands. She slowly turns to him, with tenderness
in her eyes._)

HILDA. Oh, now, Will, I do understand. Now I see the real reason
for what you've done.

WHITE (_defensively_). I've given the real reason.

HILDA (_her heart going out to him_). You poor tired man. My dear
one. Forgive me if I made it difficult for you, if I said cruel
words. I ought to have guessed; ought to have seen what life has
done to you. (_He looks up, not understanding her words_). Those
hands of yours first dug a living out of the ground. Then they
built houses and grew strong because you were a workman--a man of
the people. You saw injustice, and all your life you fought
against those who had the power to inflict it: the press; the
comfortable respectables, like my brother; and even those of your
own group who opposed you--you fought them all. And they look at
you as an outsider, an alien in your own country. O Will, I know
how hard it has been for you to be always on the defensive,
against the majority. It is hard to live alone, away from the
herd. It does tire one to the bone and make one envious of the
comfort and security they find by being together.

WHITE. Yes--but--

HILDA. Now the war comes and with it a chance to get back; to be
part of the majority; to be welcomed with open arms by those who
have fought you; to go back with honor and praise. And, yes, to
have the warmth and comfort of the crowd. That's the real reason
you're going in. You're tired and worn out with the fight. I
know. I understand now.

WHITE (_earnestly_). If I thought it was that, I'd kill myself.

HILDA. There's been enough killing already. I have to understand
it somehow to accept it at all.

(_He stares at her, wondering at her words. She smiles. He goes to
a chair and sits down, gazing before him. The music of Over There
is now heard outside in the street, approaching nearer and
nearer. It is a military band. WALLACE excitedly rushes in
dressed in khaki._)

WALLACE. Mother, mother. The boys are coming down the street.
(_Sees father._) Dad! Mother has told you?

HILDA (_calmly_). Yes; I've told him.

WALLACE. And you're going to let me go, Dad?


WALLACE. Oh, thanks, Dad (_grasping his hand_).

I knew mother would make you see. (_Music nearer._) Listen! Isn't
that a great tune? Lifts you up on your feet and carries you over
there. Gee, it just gets into a fellow and makes him want to run
for his gun and charge over the top. (_He goes to balcony._) Look!
They're nearing here; all ready to sail with the morning tide.
They've got their helmets on. You can't see the end of them
coming down the avenue. Oh, thank God, I'm going to be one of
them soon. Thank God! I'm going to fight for Uncle Sam and the
Stars and Stripes. (_Calls off_) Hurrah! (_To them_) Oh, I wish I had
a flag. Why haven't we got a flag here?--Hurrah!!

(_As he goes out on the balcony the music plays louder. HILDA has
gone to WHITE during this, and stands behind him, with her arms
down his arms, as he sits there, gazing before him._)

HILDA (_fervently_). Oh, Will, if I could only feel it as he does!!

(_The music begins to trail off as WHITE tenderly takes hold of
her hands._)



Eugene O'Neill

SCENE: CAPTAIN KEENEY'S cabin on board the steam whaling ship
Atlantic Queen--a small, square compartment, about eight feet
high, with a skylight in the centre looking out on the poop deck.
On the left (_the stern of the ship_) a long bench with rough
cushions is built in against the wall. In front of the bench, a
table. Over the bench, several curtained portholes.

In the rear, left, a door leading to the captain's
sleeping-quarters. To the right of the door a small organ,
looking as if it were brand-new, is placed against the wall.

On the right, to the rear, a marble-topped, sideboard. On the
sideboard, a woman's sewing-basket. Farther forward, a doorway
leading to the companion way, and past the officers' quarters to
the main deck.

In the centre of the room, a stove. From the middle of the
ceiling a hanging lamp is suspended. The walls of the cabin are
painted white.

There is no rolling of the ship, and the light which comes
through the skylight is sickly and faint, indicating one of those
gray days of calm when ocean and sky are alike dead. The silence
is unbroken except for the measured tread of someone walking up
and down on the poop deck overhead.

It is nearing two bells--one o'clock--in the afternoon of a day
in the year 1895.

At the rise of the curtain there is a moment of intense silence.
Then the STEWARD enters and commences to clear the table of the
few dishes which still remain on it after the CAPTAIN'S dinner.
He is an old, grizzled man dressed in dungaree pants, a sweater,
and a woolen cap with ear-flaps. His manner is sullen and angry.
He stops stacking up the plates and casts a quick glance upward
at the skylight; then tiptoes over to the closed door in rear and
listens with his ear pressed to the crack. What he hears makes
his face darken and he mutters a furious curse. There is a noise
from the doorway on the right, and he darts back to the table.

BEN enters. He is an over-grown, gawky boy with a long, pinched
face. He is dressed in sweater, fur cap, etc. His teeth are
chattering with the cold and he hurries to the stove, where he
stands for a moment shivering, blowing on his hands, slapping
them against his sides, on the verge of crying.

THE STEWARD (_in relieved tones--seeing who it is_). Oh, 'tis you,
is it? What're ye shiverin' 'bout? Stay by the stove where ye
belong and ye'll find no need of chatterin'.

BEN. It's c-c-old. (_Trying to control his chattering
teeth--derisively_) Who d' ye think it were--the Old Man?

THE STEWARD. (_He makes a threatening move--BEN shrinks away._)
None o' your lip, young un, or I'll learn ye. (_More kindly_) Where
was it ye've been all o' the time--the fo'c's'le?

BEN. Yes.

THE STEWARD. Let the Old Man see ye up for'ard monkey-shinin'
with the handstand ye'll get a hidin' ye'll not forget in a

BEN. Aw, he don't see nothin'. (_A trace of awe in his tones--he
glances upward._) He just walks up and down like he didn't notice
nobody--and stares at the ice to the no'th'ard.

THE STEWARD (_the same tone of awe creeping into his voice_). He's
always starin' at the ice. (_In a sudden rage, shaking his fist at
the skylight_) Ice, ice, ice! Damn him and damn the ice! Holdin'
us in for nigh on a year--nothin' to see but ice--stuck in it
like a fly in molasses!

BEN (_apprehensively_). Ssshh! He'll hear ye.

THE STEWARD (_raging_). Aye, damn him, and damn the Arctic seas,
and damn this stinkin' whalin' ship of his, and damn me for a
fool to ever ship on it! (_Subsiding, as if realizing the
uselessness of this outburst--shaking his head--slowly, with deep
conviction_) He's a hard man--as hard a man as ever sailed the

BEN (_solemnly_). Aye.

THE STEWARD. The two years we all signed up for are done this
day. Blessed Christ! Two years o' this dog's life, and no luck in
the fishin', and the hands half starved with the food runnin'
low, rotten as it is; and not a sign of him turnin' back for
home! (_Bitterly_) Home! I begin to doubt if ever I'll set foot on
land again. (_Excitedly_) What is it he thinks he's goin' to do?
Keep us all up here after our time is worked out till the last
man of us is starved to death or frozen? We've grub enough hardly
to last out the voyage back if we started now. What are the men
goin' to do 'bout it? Did ye hear any talk in the fo'c's'le?

BEN (_going over to him--in a half-whisper_). They said if he don't
put back south for home to-day they're goin' to mutiny.

THE STEWARD (_with grim satisfaction_). Mutiny? Aye, 'tis the only
thing they can do; and serve him right after the manner he's
treated them--'s if they weren't no better nor dogs.

BEN. The ice is all broke up to s'uth'rd. They's clear water's
far's you can see. He ain't got no excuse for not turnin' back
for home, the men says.

THE STEWARD (_bitterly_). He won't look nowheres but no'th'rd where
they's only the ice to see. He don't want to see no clear water.
All he thinks on is gittin' the ile--'s if it was our fault he
ain't had good luck with the whales. (_Shaking his head_) I think
the man's mighty nigh losin' his senses.

BEN (_awed_). D' you really think he's crazy?

THE STEWARD. Aye, it's the punishment o' God on him. Did ye hear
ever of a man who wasn't crazy do the things he does? (_Pointing
to the door in rear_) Who but a man that's mad would take his
woman--and as sweet a woman as ever was--on a stinkin' whalin'
ship to the Arctic seas to be locked in by the rotten ice for
nigh on a year, and maybe lose her senses forever--for it's sure
she'll never be the same again.

BEN (_sadly_). She useter be awful nice to me before--(_his eyes
grow wide and frightened_) she got--like she is.

THE STEWARD. Aye, she was good to all of us. 'T would have been
hell on board without her; for he's a hard man--a hard, hard
man--a driver if there ever was one. (_With a grim laugh_) I hope
he's satisfied now--drivin' her on till she's near lost her mind.
And who could blame her? 'T is a God's wonder we're not a ship
full of crazed people--with the damned ice all the time, and the
quiet so thick you're afraid to hear your own voice.

BEN (_with a frightened glance toward the door on right_). She
don't never speak to me no more--jest looks at me's if she didn't
know me.

THE STEWARD. She don't know no one--but him. She talks to
him--when she does talk--right enough.

BEN. She does nothin' all day long now but sit and sew--and then
she cries to herself without makin' no noise. I've seen her.

THE STEWARD. Aye, I could hear her through the door a while back.

BEN (_tiptoes over to the door and listens_). She's cryin' now.

THE STEWARD (_furiously--shaking his fist_). God send his soul to
hell for the devil he is!

(_There is the noise of someone coming slowly down the
companionway stairs._ THE STEWARD _hurries to his stacked-up
dishes. He is so nervous from fright that he knocks off the top
one, which falls and breaks on the floor. He stands aghast,
trembling with dread. BEN is violently rubbing off the organ with
a piece of cloth which he has snatched from his pocket_, CAPTAIN
KEENEY _appears in the doorway on right and comes into the cabin,
removing his fur cap as he does so. He is a man of about forty,
around five-ten in height, but looking much shorter on account of
the enormous proportions of his shoulders and chest. His face is
massive and deeply lined, with gray-blue eyes of a bleak
hardness, and a tightly clenched, thin-lipped mouth. His thick
hair is long and gray. He is dressed in a heavy blue jacket and
blue pants stuffed into his sea-boots._

_He is followed into the cabin by the_ SECOND MATE, _a rangy
six-footer with a lean, weatherbeaten face._ The MATE _is dressed
about the same as the captain. He is a man of thirty or so._)

KEENEY. (_Comes toward the_ STEWARD--_with a stern look on his
face. The_ STEWARD _is visibly frightened and the stack of dishes
rattles in his trembling hands._ KEENEY _draws back his fist and
the_ STEWARD _shrinks away. The fist is gradually lowered and_
KEENEY _speaks slowly._) 'T would be like hitting a worm. It Is
nigh on two bells, Mr. Steward, and this truck not cleared yet.

THE STEWARD (_stammering_). Y-y-yes, sir.

KEENEY. Instead of doin' your rightful work ye've been below here
gossipin' old woman's talk with that boy. (_To_ BEN _fiercely_) Get
out o' this, you! Clean up the chartroom. (BEN _darts past the_
MATE _to the open doorway._) Pick up that dish, Mr. Steward!

THE STEWARD (_doing so with difficulty_). Yes, sir.

KEENEY. The next dish you break, Mr. Steward, you take a bath in
the Bering Sea at the end of a rope.

THE STEWARD (_tremblingly_). Yes, sir.

(_He hurries out. The_ SECOND MATE _walks slowly over to the_

MATE. I warn't 'specially anxious the man at the wheel should
catch what I wanted to say to you, sir. That's why I asked you to
come below.

KEENEY (_impatiently_). Speak your say, Mr. Slocum.

MATE (_unconsciously lowering his voice_). I'm afeard there'll be
trouble with the hands by the look o' things. They'll likely turn
ugly, every blessed one o' them, if you don't put back. The two
years they signed up for is up to-day.

KEENEY. And d'you think you're tellin' me somethin' new, Mr.
Slocum? I've felt it in the air this long time past. D'you think
I've not seen their ugly looks and the grudgin' way they worked?

(_The door in rear is opened and_ MRS. KEENEY _stands in the
doorway. She is a slight, sweet-faced little woman primly dressed
in black. Her eyes are red from weeping and her face drawn and
pale. She takes in the cabin with a frightened glance and stands
as if fixed to the spot by some nameless dread, clasping and
unclasping her hands nervously. The two men turn and look at

KEENEY (_with rough tenderness_). Well, Annie?

MRS. KEENEY (_as if awakening from a dream_). David, I--(_She is
silent. The_ MATE _starts for the doorway._)

KEENEY (_turning to him--sharply_). Wait!

MATE. Yes, sir.

KEENEY. D'you want anything, Annie?

MRS. KEENEY (_after a pause, during which she seems to be
endeavoring to collect her thoughts_). I thought maybe--I'd go up
on deck, David, to get a breath of fresh air.

(_She stand's humbly awaiting his permission. He and the_ MATE
_exchange a significant glance._)

KEENEY. It's too cold, Annie. You'd best stay below to-day.
There's nothing to look at on deck--but ice.

MRS. KEENEY (_monotonously_). I know--ice, ice, ice! But there's
nothing to see down here but these walls.

(_She makes a gesture of loathing._)

KEENEY. You can play the organ, Annie.

MRS. KEENEY (_dully_). I hate the organ. It puts me in mind of

KEENEY (_a touch of resentment in his voice_). I got it jest for

MRS. KEENEY (_dully_). I know. (_She turns away from them and walks
slowly to the bench on left. She lifts up one of the curtains and
looks through a porthole; then utters an exclamation of joy._) Ah,
water! Clear water! As far as I can see! How good it looks after
all these months of ice! (_She turns round to them, her face
transfigured with joy._) Ah, now I must go upon deck and look at
it, David.

KEENEY (_frowning_). Best not to-day, Annie. Best wait for a day
when the sun shines.

MRS. KEENEY (_desperately_). But the sun never shines in this
terrible place.

KEENEY (_a tone of command in his voice_). Best not to-day, Annie.

MRS. KEENEY (_crumbling before this command--abjectly_). Very well,

(_She stands there staring straight before her as if in a daze.
The two men look at her uneasily._)

KEENEY (_sharply_). Annie!

MRS. KEENEY (_dully_). Yes, David.

KEENEY. Me and Mr. Slocum has business to talk about--ship's

MRS. KEENEY. Very well, David.

(_She goes slowly out, rear, and leaves the door three quarters
shut behind her._)

KEENEY. Best not have her on deck if they's goin' to be any

MATE. Yes, sir.

KEENEY. And trouble they's goin' to be. I feel it in my bones.

(_Takes a revolver from the pocket of his coat and examines it._)

Got yourn?

MATE. Yes, sir.

KEENEY. Not that we'll have to use 'em--not if I know their breed
of dog--jest to frighten 'em up a bit. (_Grimly_) I ain't never
been forced to use one yit; and trouble I've had by land and by
sea's long as I kin remember, and will have till my dyin' day, I

MATE (_hesitatingly_). Then you ain't goin'--to turn back?

KEENEY. Turn back! Mr. Slocum, did you ever hear o' me pointin'
s'uth for home with only a measly four hundred barrel of ile in
the hold?

MATE (_hastily_). No, sir--but the grub's gittin' low.

KEENEY. They's enough to last a long time yit, if they're careful
with it; and they's plenty o' water.

MATE. They say it's not fit to eat--what's left; and the two
years they signed on fur is up to-day. They might make trouble
for you in the courts when we git home.

KEENEY. To hell with 'em! Let them make what law trouble they
kin. I don't give a damn 'bout the money. I've got to git the
ile! (_Glancing sharply at the_ MATE) You ain't turnin' no damned
sea lawyer, be you, Mr. Slocum?

MATE (_flushing_). Not by a hell of a sight, sir.

KEENEY. What do the fools want to go home fur now? Their share o'
the four hundred barrel wouldn't keep 'em in chewin' terbacco.

MATE (_slowly_). They wants to git back to their folks an' things,
I s'pose.

KEENEY (_looking at him searchingly_). 'N' you want to turn back,
too. (THE MATE _looks down confusedly before his sharp gaze._)
Don't lie, Mr. Slocum. It's writ down plain in your eyes. (_With
grim sarcasm_) I hope, Mr. Slocum, you ain't agoin' to jine the
men agin me.

MATE (_indignantly_). That ain't fair, sir, to say sich things.

KEENEY (_with satisfaction_). I warn't much afeard o' that, Tom.
You been with me nigh on ten year and I've learned ye whalin'. No
man kin say I ain't a good master, if I be a hard one.

MATE. I warn't thinkin' of myself, sir--'bout turnin' home, I
mean. (_Desperately_) But Mrs. Keeney, sir--seems like she ain't
jest satisfied up here, ailin' like--what with the cold an' bad
luck an' the ice an' all.

KEENEY (_his face clouding--rebukingly but not severely_). That's
my business, Mr. Slocum. I'll thank you to steer a clear course o'
that. (_A pause._) The ice'll break up soon to no'th'rd. I could
see it startin' to-day. And when it goes and we git some sun,
Annie'll perk up. (_Another pause--then he bursts forth_) It ain't
the damned money what's keepin' me up in the Northern seas, Tom.
But I can't go back to Homeport with a measly four hundred barrel
of ile. I'd die fust. I ain't never come back home in all my days
without a full ship. Ain't that truth?

MATE. Yes, sir; but this voyage you been ice-bound, an'--

KEENEY (_scornfully_). And d' you s'pose any of 'em would believe
that--any o' them skippers I've beaten voyage after voyage? Can't
you hear 'em laughin' and sneerin'--Tibbots 'n' Harris 'n' Simms
and the rest--and all o' Homeport makin' fun o' me? "Dave Keeney
what boasts he's the best whalin' skipper out o' Homeport comin'
back with a measly four hundred barrel of ile?" (_The thought of
this drives him into a frenzy, and he smashes his fist down on
the marble top of the sideboard._) Hell! I got to git the ile, I
tell you. How could I figger on this ice? It's never been so bad
before in the thirty year I been a-comin' here. And now it's
breakin'up. In a couple o'days it'll be all gone. And they's
whale here, plenty of 'em. I know they is and I ain't never gone
wrong yit. I got to git the ile! I got to git it in spite of all
hell, and by God, I ain't a-goin' home till I do git it!

(_There is the sound of subdued sobbing from the door in rear. The
two men stand silent for a moment, listening. Then_ KEENEY _goes
over to the door and looks in. He hesitates for a moment as if he
were going to enter--then closes the door softly._ JOE, _the
harpooner, an enormous six-footer with a battered, ugly face,
enters from right and stands waiting for the captain to notice

KEENEY (_turning and seeing him_). Don't be standin' there like a
gawk, Harpooner. Speak up!

JOE (_confusedly_). We want--the men, sir--they want send a
depitation aft to have a word with you.

KEENEY (_furiously_). Tell 'em to go to--(_checks himself and
continues grimly_) Tell'em to come. I'll see'em.

JOE. Aye, aye, sir.

(_He goes out._)

KEENEY (_with a grim smile_). Here it comes, the trouble you spoke
of, Mr. Slocum, and we'll make short shift of it. It's better to
crush such things at the start than let them make headway.

MATE (_worriedly_). Shall I wake up the First and Fourth, sir? We
might need their help.

KEENEY. No, let them sleep. I'm well able to handle this alone,
Mr. Slocum.

(_There is the shuffling of footsteps from outside and five of the
crew crowd into the cabin, led by_ JOE. _All are dressed
alike--sweaters, sea-boots, etc. They glance uneasily at the_
CAPTAIN, _twirling their fur caps in their hands._)

KEENEY (_after a pause_). Well? Who's to speak fur ye?

JOE (_stepping forward with an air of bravado_). I be.

KEENEY (_eyeing him up and down coldly_). So you be. Then speak
your say and be quick about it.

JOE (_trying not to wilt before the CAPTAIN'S glance and avoiding
his eyes_). The time we signed up for is done to-day.

KEENEY (_icily_). You're tellin' me nothin' I don't know.

JOE. You ain't p'intin' fur home yit, far's we kin see.

KEENEY. No, and I ain't agoin' to till this ship is full of ile.

JOE. You can't go no further no'the with the ice afore ye.

KEENEY. The ice is breaking up.

JOB (_after a slight pause during which the others mumble angrily
to one another_). The grub we're gittin' now is rotten.

KEENEY. It's good enough fur ye. Better men than ye are have
eaten worse.

(_There is a chorus of angry exclamations from the crowd._)

JOE (_encouraged by this support_). We ain'ta-goin' to work no more
'less you puts back fur home.

KEENEY (_fiercely_). You ain't, ain't you?

JOE. No; and the law courts 'll say we was right.

KEENEY. To hell with your law courts! We're at sea now and I'm
the law on this ship. (_Edging up toward the harpooner._) And every
mother's son of you what don't obey orders goes in irons.

(_There are more angry exclamations from the crew._ MRS. KEENEY
_appears in the doorway in rear and looks on with startled eyes.
None of the men notices her._)

JOE (_with bravado_). Then we're a-goin' to mutiny and take the
old hooker home ourselves. Ain't we, boys?

(_As he turns his head to look at the others_, KEENEY'S _fist
shoots out to the side of his jaw._ JOE _goes down in a heap and
lies there._ MRS. KEENEY _gives a shriek and hides her face in
her hands. The men pull out their sheath knives and start a rush,
but stop when they find themselves confronted by the revolvers
of_ KEENEY _and the_ MATE.)

KEENEY (_his eyes and voice snapping_). Hold still! (_The men
stand huddled together in a sullen silence._ KEENEY'S _voice is
full of mockery._) You've found out it ain't safe to mutiny on
this ship, ain't you? And now git for'ard where ye belong, and
(_he gives_ JOE'S _body a contemptuous kick_) drag him with you.
And remember, the first man of ye I see shirkin' I'll shoot dead
as sure as there's a sea under us, and you can tell the rest the
same. Git for'ard now! Quick! (_The men leave in cowed silence,
carrying_ JOE _with them._ KEENEY _turns to the_ MATE _with a
short laugh and puts his revolver back in his pocket._) Best get
up on deck, Mr. Slocum, and see to it they don't try none of
their skulkin' tricks. We'll have to keep an eye peeled from now
on. I know 'em.

MATE. Yes, sir.

(_He goes out, right._ KEENEY _hears his wife's hysterical
weeping and turns around in surprise--then walks slowly to her

KEENEY (_putting an arm around her shoulder--with gruff
tenderness_). There, there, Annie. Don't be afeard. It's all past
and gone.

MRS. KEENEY (_shrinking away from, him_). Oh, I can't bear it! I
can't bear it any longer!

KEENEY (_gently_). Can't bear what, Annie?

MRS. KEENEY (_hysterically_). All this horrible brutality, and
these brutes of men, and this terrible ship, and this prison cell
of a room, and the ice all around, and the silence.

(_After this outburst she calms down and wipes her eyes with her

KEENEY (_after a pause during which he looks down at her with a
puzzled frown_). Remember, I warn't hankerin' to have you come on
this voyage, Annie.

MRS. KEENEY. I wanted to be with you, David, don't you see? I
didn't want to wait back there in the house all alone as I've
been doing these last six years since we were married--waiting,
and watching, and fearing--with nothing to keep my mind
occupied--not able to go back teaching school on account of being
Dave Keeney's wife. I used to dream of sailing on the great,
wide, glorious ocean. I wanted to be by your side in the danger
and vigorous life of it all. I wanted to see you the hero they
make you out to be in Homeport. And instead--(_her voice grows
tremulous_) all I find is ice--and cold--and brutality!

(_Her voice breaks._)

KEENEY. I warned you what it'd be, Annie. "Whalin' ain't no
ladies' tea party," I says to you, "and you better stay to home
where you've got all your woman's comforts." (_Shaking his head_)
But you was so set on it.

MRS. KEENEY (_wearily_). Oh, I know it isn't your fault, David. You
see, I didn't believe you. I guess I was dreaming about the old
Vikings in the story-books and I thought you were one of them.

KEENEY (_protestingly_). I done my best to make it as cozy and
comfortable as could be. (MRS. KEENEY _looks around her in wild
scorn._) I even sent to the city for that organ for ye, thinkin'
it might be soothin' to ye to be playin' it times when they was
calms and things was dull like.

MRS. KEENEY (_wearily_). Yes, you were very kind, David. I know
that. (_She goes to left and lifts the curtains from the porthole
and looks out--then suddenly bursts forth._) I won't stand it--I
can't stand it--pent up by these walls like a prisoner. (_She runs
over to him and throws her arms around him, weeping. He puts his
arm protectingly over her shoulders._) Take me away from here,
David! If I don't get away from here, out of this terrible ship,
I'll go mad! Take me home, David! I can't think any more. I feel
as if the cold and the silence were crushing down on my brain.
I'm afraid. Take me home!

KEENEY (_holds her at arm's length and looks at her face
anxiously_). Best go to bed, Annie. You ain't yourself. You got
fever. Your eyes look so strange like. I ain't never seen you
look this way before.

MRS. KEENEY (_laughing hysterically_). It's the ice and the cold
and the silence--they'd make anyone look strange.

KEENEY (_soothingly_). In a month or two, with good luck, three at
the most, I'll have her filled with ile and then we'll give her
everything she'll stand and p'int for home.

MRS. KEENEY. But we can't wait for that--I can't wait. I want to
get home. And the men won't wait. They want to get home. It's
cruel, it's brutal for you to keep them. You must sail back.
You've got no excuse. There's clear water to the south now. If
you've a heart at all, you've got to turn back.

KEENEY (_harshly_). I can't, Annie.

MRS. KEENEY. Why can't you?

KEENEY. A woman couldn't rightly understand my reason.

MRS. KEENEY (_wildly_). Because it's a stupid, stubborn reason. Oh,
I heard you talking with the second mate. You're afraid the other
captains will sneer at you because you didn't come back with a
full ship. You want to live up to our silly reputation even if
you do have to beat and starve men and drive me mad to do it.

KEENEY (_his jaw set stubbornly_). It ain't that, Annie. Them
skippers would never dare sneer to my face. It ain't so much what
anyone'd say--but--(_He hesitates, struggling to express his
meaning._) You see--I've always done it--since my first voyage as
skipper. I always come back--with a full ship--and--it don't seem
right not to--somehow. I been always first whalin' skipper out o'
Homeport, and--Don't you see my meanin', Annie? (_He glances at
her. She is not looking at him but staring dully in front of her,
not hearing a word he is saying._) Annie! (_She comes to herself
with a start._) Best turn in, Annie, there's a good woman. You
ain't well.

MRS. KEENEY (_resisting his attempts to guide her to the door in
rear_). David! Won't you please turn back?

KEENEY (_gently_). I can't, Annie--not yet awhile. You don't see my
meanin'. I got to git the ile.

MRS. KEENEY. It'd be different if you needed the money, but you
don't. You've got more than plenty.

KEENEY (_impatiently_). It ain't the money I'm thinkin' of. D'you
think I'm as mean as that?

MRS. KEENEY (_dully_). No--I don't know--I can't
understand--(_Intensely_) Oh, I want to be home in the old house
once more and see my own kitchen again, and hear a woman's voice
talking to me and be able to talk to her. Two years! It seems so
long ago--as if I'd been dead and could never go back.

KEENEY (_worried by her strange tone and the far-away look in her
eyes_). Best go to bed, Annie. You ain't well.

MRS. KEENEY (_not appearing to hear him_). I used to be lonely when
you were away. I used to think Homeport was a stupid, monotonous
place. Then I used to go down on the beach, especially when it
was windy and the breakers were rolling in, and I'd dream of the
fine free life you must be leading. (_She gives a laugh which is
half a sob._) I used to love the sea then. (_She pauses; then
continues with slow intensity._) But now--I don't ever want to see
the sea again.

KEENEY (_thinking to humor her_). 'Tis no fit place for a woman,
that's sure. I was a fool to bring ye.

MRS. KEENEY (_after a pause--passing her hand over her eyes with a
gesture of pathetic weariness_). How long would it take us to
reach home--if we started now?

KEENEY (_frowning_). 'Bout two months, I reckon, Annie, with fair

MRS. KEENEY (_counts on her fingers--then murmurs with a rapt
smile_). That would be August, the latter part of August, wouldn't
it? It was on the twenty-fifth of August we were married, David,
wasn't it?

KEENEY (_trying to conceal the fact that her memories have moved
him--gruffly_). Don't you remember?

MRS. KEENEY (_vaguely--again passes her hand over her eyes_). My
memory is leaving me--up here in the ice. It was so long ago. (_A
pause--then she smiles dreamily._) It's June now. The lilacs will
be all in bloom in the front yard--and the climbing roses on the
trellis to the side of the house--they're budding.

(_She suddenly covers her face with her hands and commences to

KEENEY (_disturbed_). Go in and rest, Annie. You're all wore out
cryin' over what can't be helped.

MRS. KEENEY (_suddenly throwing her arms around his neck and
clinging to him_). You love me, don't you, David?

KEENEY (_in amazed embarrassment at this outburst_) Love you? Why
d'you ask me such a question, Annie?

MRS. KEENEY (_shaking him--fiercely_). But you do, don't you,
David? Tell me!

KEENEY. I'm your husband, Annie, and you're my wife. Could there
be aught but love between us after all these years?

MRS. KEENEY (_shaking him again--still more fiercely_). Then you do
love me. Say it!

KEENEY (_simply_). I do, Annie.

MRS. KEENEY. (_Gives a sigh of relief--her hands drop to her
sides._ KEENEY _regards her anxiously. She passes her hand across
her eyes and murmurs half to herself._) I sometimes think if we
could only have had a child. (KEENEY _turns away from her, deeply
moved. She grabs his arm and turns him around to face
her--intensely._) And I've always been a good wife to you,
haven't I, David?

KEENEY (_his voice betraying his emotion_). No man ever had a
better, Annie.

MRS. KEENEY. And I've never asked for much from you, have I,
David? Have I?

KEENEY. You know you could have all I got the power to give ye,

MRS. KEENEY (_wildly_). Then do this, this once, for my sake, for
God's sake--take me home! It's killing me, this life--the
brutality and cold and horror of it. I'm going mad. I can feel
the threat in the air. I can hear the silence threatening me--day
after gray day and every day the same. I can't bear it.
(_Sobbing._) I'll go mad, I know I will. Take me home, David, if
you love me as you say. I'm afraid. For the love of God, take me

(_She throws her arms around him, weeping against his shoulder.
His face betrays the tremendous struggle going on within him. He
holds her out at arm's length, his expression softening. For a
moment his shoulders sag, he becomes old, his iron spirit weakens
as he looks at her tear-stained face._)

KEENEY (_dragging out the words with an effort_). I'll do it,
Annie--for your sake--if you say it's needful for ye.

MRS. KEENEY (_with wild joy--kissing him_). God bless you for that,

(_He turns away from her silently and walks toward the
companionway. Just at that moment there is a clatter of footsteps
on the stairs and the_ SECOND MATE _enters the cabin._)

MATE (_excitedly_). The ice is breakin' up to no'th'rd, sir.
There's a clear passage through the floe, and clear water beyond,
the lookout says.

(KEENEY _straightens himself like a man coming out of a trance._
MRS. KEENEY _looks at the_ MATE _with terrified eyes._)

KEENEY (_dazedly--trying to collect his thoughts_). A clear
passage? To no'th'rd?

MATE. Yes, sir.

KEENEY (_his voice suddenly grim with determination_). Then get her
ready and we'll drive her through.

MATE. Aye, aye, sir.

MRS. KEENEY (_appealingly_). David!

KEENEY (_not heeding her_). Will the men turn to willin' or must we
drag 'em out?

MATE. They 'll turn to willin' enough. You put the fear o' God
into 'em, sir. They're meek as lambs.

KEENEY. Then drive 'em--both watches. (_With grim determination_)
They's whale t' other side o' this floe and we're going to git

MATE. Aye, aye, sir.

(_He goes out hurriedly. A moment later there is the sound of
scuffing feet from the deck outside and the_ MATE'S _voice shouting

KEENEY (_speaking aloud to himself--derisively_). And I was a-goin'
home like a yaller dog!

MRS. KEENEY (_imploringly_). David!

KEENEY (_sternly_). Woman, you ain't a-doin' right when you meddle
in men's business and weaken 'em. You can't know my feelin's. I
got to prove a man to be a good husband for ye to take pride in.
I got to git the ile, I tell ye.

MRS. KEENEY (_supplicatingly_). David! Aren't you going home?

KEENEY (_ignoring this question--commandingly_). You ain't well. Go
and lay down a mite. (_He starts for the door._) I got to git on

(_He goes out. She cries after him in anguish, "David!" A pause.
She passes her hand across her eyes--then commences to laugh
hysterically and goes to the organ. She sits down and starts to
play wildly an old hymn._ KEENEY _reënters from the doorway to the
deck and stands looking at her angrily. He comes over and grabs
her roughly by the shoulder._)

KEENEY. Woman, what foolish mockin' is this? (_She laughs wildly,
and he starts back from her in alarm._) Annie! What is it? (_She
doesn't answer him._ KEENEY'S _voice trembles._) Don't you know me,

(_He puts both hands on her shoulders and turns her around so that
he can look into her eyes. She stares up at him with a stupid
expression, a vague smile on her lips. He stumbles away from her,
and she commences softly to play the organ again._)

KEENEY (_swallowing hard--in a hoarse whisper, as if he had
difficulty in speaking_). You said--you was agoin' mad--God!

(_A long wail is heard from the deck above: "Ah bl-o-o-o-ow!" A
moment later the_ MATE'S _face appears through the skylight. He
cannot see_ MRS. KEENEY.)

MATE (_in great excitement_). Whales, sir--a whole school of
'em--off the starb'd quarter 'bout five mile away--big ones!

KEENEY (_galvanized into action_). Are you lowerin' the boats?

MATE. Yes, sir.

KEENEY (_with grim decision_). I'm a-comin' with ye.

MATE. Aye, aye, sir. (_Jubilantly_) You'll git the ile now right
enough, sir.

(_His head is withdrawn and he can be heard shouting orders._)

KEENEY (_turning to his wife_). Annie! Did you hear him? I'll git
the ile. (_She doesn't answer or seem to know he is there. He
gives a hard laugh, which is almost a groan._) I know you're
foolin' me, Annie. You ain't out of your mind--(_anxiously_) be
you? I'll git the ile now right enough--jest a little while
longer, Annie--then we'll turn hom'ard. I can't turn back now,
you see that, don't ye? I've got to git the ile. (_In sudden
terror_) Answer me! You ain't mad, be you?

(_She keeps on playing the organ, but makes no reply. The_ MATE'S
_face appears again through the skylight._)

MATE. All ready, sir.

(KEENEY _turns his back on his wife and strides to the doorway,
where he stands for a moment and looks back at her in anguish,
fighting to control his feelings._)

MATE. Comin', sir?

KEENEY (_his face suddenly grown hard with determination_). Aye.

(_He turns abruptly and goes out._ MRS. KEENEY _does not appear to
notice his departure. Her whole attention seems centred in the
organ. She sits with half-closed eyes, her body swaying a little
from side to side to the rhythm of the hymn. Her fingers move
faster and faster and she is playing wildly and discordantly as
the Curtain falls._)


J.A. Ferguson

[Footnote 1: Included by special permission of the publishers,
Messrs. Gowans and Gray, Glasgow.]



SCENE: _Interior of a lonely cottage on the road from Struan to
Rannoch in North Perthshire._

TIME: _After the Rising of 1745._

MORAG _is restlessly moving backwards and forwards. The old woman
is seated on a low stool beside the peat fire in the centre of
the floor._

_The room is scantily furnished and the women are poorly clad.
MORAG is barefooted. At the back is the door that leads to the
outside. On the left of the door is a small window. On the right
side of the room there is a door that opens into a barn. MORAG
stands for a moment at the window, looking out._

MORAG. It is the wild night outside.

MARY STEWART. Is the snow still coming down?

MORAG. It is that, then--dancing and swirling with the wind too,
and never stopping at all. Aye, and so black I cannot see the
other side of the road.

MARY STEWART. That is good.

(MORAG _moves across the floor and stops irresolutely. She is
restless, expectant._)

MORAG. Will I be putting the light in the window?

MARY STEWART. Why should you be doing that? You have not heard
his call (_turns eagerly_), have you?

MORAG (_with sign of head_). No, but the light in the window would
show him all is well.

MARY STEWART. It would not, then! The light was to be put there
_after_ we had heard the signal.

MORAG. But on a night like this he may have been calling for long
and we never hear him.

MARY STEWART. Do not be so anxious, Morag. Keep to what he says.
Put more peat on the fire now and sit down.

MORAG (_with increasing excitement_). I canna, I canna! There is
that in me that tells me something is going to befall us this
night. Oh, that wind! Hear to it, sobbing round the house as if
it brought some poor lost soul up to the door, and we refusing it

MARY STEWART. Do not be fretting yourself like that. Do as I bid
you. Put more peats to the fire.

MORAG (_at the wicker peat-basket_). Never since I.... What was

(_Both listen for a moment._)

MARY STEWART. It was just the wind; it is rising more. A sore
night for them that are out in the heather.

(MORAG _puts peat on the fire without speaking._)

MARY STEWART. Did you notice were there many people going by

MORAG. No. After daybreak the redcoats came by from Struan; and
there was no more till nine, when an old man like the Catechist
from Killichonan passed. At four o'clock, just when the dark was
falling, a horseman with a lad holding to the stirrup, and
running fast, went by towards Rannoch.

MARY STEWART. But no more redcoats?

MORAG (_shaking her head_). The road has been as quiet as the
hills, and they as quiet as the grave. Do you think will he come?

MARY STEWART. Is it you think I have the gift, girl, that you ask
me that? All I know is that it is five days since he was here for
meat and drink for himself and for the others--five days and five
nights, mind you; and little enough he took away; and those in
hiding no' used to such sore lying, I'll be thinking. He must try
to get through to-night. But that quietness, with no one to be
seen from daylight till dark, I do not like it, Morag. They must
know something. They must be watching.

(_A sound is heard by both women. They stand listening._)

MARY STEWART. Haste you with the light, Morag.

MORAG. But it came from the back of the house--from the hillside.

MARY STEWART. Do as I tell you. The other side may be watched.

(_A candle is lit and placed in the window. Girl goes hurrying to
the door._)

MARY STEWART. Stop, stop! Would you be opening the door with a
light like that shining from the house? A man would be seen
against it in the doorway for a mile. And who knows what eyes may
be watching? Put out the light now and cover the fire.

(_Room is reduced to semi-darkness, and the door unbarred. Someone

MORAG. You are cold, Dugald!

(STEWART, _very exhausted, signs assent._)

MORAG. And wet, oh, wet through and through!

STEWART. Erricht Brig was guarded, well guarded. I had to win
across the water.

(_The old woman has now relit candle and taken away plaid from

MARY STEWART. Erricht Brig--then--

STEWART (_nods_). Yes--in a corrie, on the far side of Dearig,
half-way up.

MARY STEWART. Himself is there then?

STEWART. Aye, and Keppoch as well, and another and a greater is
with them.

MARY STEWART. Wheest! (_Glances at_ MORAG.)

STEWART. Mother, is it that you can--

MARY STEWART. Yes, yes, Morag will bring out the food for ye to
carry back. It is under the hay in the barn, well hid. Morag will
bring it.--Go, Morag, and bring it.

(MORAG _enters other room or barn which opens on right._)

STEWART. Mother, I wonder at ye; Morag would never tell--never.

MARY STEWART. Morag is only a lass yet. She has never been tried.
And who knows what she might be made to tell.

STEWART. Well, well, it is no matter, for I was telling you where
I left them, but not where I am to _find_ them.

MARY STEWART. They are not where you said now?

STEWART. No; they left the corrie last night, and I am to find
them (_whispers_) in a quiet part on Rannoch moor.

MARY STEWART. It is as well for a young lass not to be knowing.
Do not tell her.

(_He sits down at table; the old woman ministers to his wants._)

STEWART. A fire is a merry thing on a night like this; and a roof
over the head is a great comfort.

MARY STEWART. Ye'll no' can stop the night?

STEWART. No. I must be many a mile from here before the day
breaks on Ben Dearig.

(MORAG _reënters._)

MORAG. It was hard to get through, Dugald?

STEWART. You may say that. I came down Erricht for three miles,
and then when I reached low country I had to take to walking in
the burns because of the snow that shows a man's steps and tells
who he is to them that can read; and there's plenty can do that
abroad, God knows.

MORAG. But none spied ye?

STEWART. Who can tell? Before dark came, from far up on the
slopes of Dearig I saw soldiers about; and away towards the
Rannoch Moor they were scattered all over the country like black
flies on a white sheet. A wild cat or anything that couldna fly
could never have got through. And men at every brig and ford and
pass! I had to strike away up across the slopes again; and even
so as I turned round the bend beyond Kilrain I ran straight into
a sentry sheltering behind a great rock. But after that it was
easy going.

MORAG. How could that be?

STEWART. Well, you see I took the boots off him, and then I had
no need to mind who might see my steps in the snow.

MORAG. You took the boots off him!

STEWART (_laughing_). I did that same. Does that puzzle your bonny
head? How does a lad take the boots off a redcoat? Find out the
answer, my lass, while I will be finishing my meat.

MORAG. Maybe he was asleep?

STEWART. Asleep! Asleep! Well, well, he sleeps sound enough now,
with the ten toes of him pointed to the sky.

(_The old woman has taken up dirk from table. She puts it down
again._ MORAG _sees the action and pushes dirk away so that it
rolls off the table and drops to the floor. She hides her face in
her hands._)

MARY STEWART. Morag, bring in the kebbuck o' cheese. Now that all
is well and safe it is we that will look after his comfort
to-night. (MORAG _goes into barn._)--I mind well her mother saying
to me--it was one day in the black winter that she died, when the
frost took the land in its grip and the birds fell stiff from the
trees, and the deer came down and put their noses to the door--I
mind well her saying just before she died--

(_Loud knocking at the door._)

A VOICE. In the King's name!

(_Both rise._)

MARY STEWART. The hay in the barn, quick, my son.

(_Knocking continues._)

A VOICE. Open in the King's name!

(STEWART _snatches up such articles as would reveal his presence
and hurries into barn. He overlooks dirk on floor. The old woman
goes towards door._)

MARY STEWART. Who is there? What do you want?

A VOICE. Open, open.

SANDEMAN _into the house. Behind_ KILMHOR _comes a man carrying a
leather wallet_, JAMES MACKENZIE, _his clerk. The rear is brought
up by soldiers carrying arms._)

SANDEMAN. Ha, the bird has flown.

CAMPBELL (_who has struck dirk with his foot and picked it up_).
But the nest is warm; look at this.

SANDEMAN. It seems as if we had disturbed him at supper. Search
the house, men.

MARY STEWART. I'm just a lonely old woman. You have been
misguided. I was getting through my supper.

CAMPBELL (_holding up dirk_). And this was your toothpick, eh? Na!
Na! We ken whaur we are, and wha we want, and by Cruachan, I
think we've got him.

(_Sounds are heard from barn, and soldiers return with MORAG. She
has stayed in hiding from fear, and she still holds the cheese in
her hands._)

SANDEMAN. What have we here?


MARY STEWART. It's just my dead brother's daughter. She was
getting me the cheese, as you can see.

CAMPBELL. On, men, again: the other turtle doo will no' be far
away. (_Banteringly to the old woman_) Tut, tut, Mistress Stewart,
and do ye have her wait upon ye while your leddyship dines alane!
A grand way to treat your dead brother's daughter; fie, fie, upon

(_Soldiers reappear with_ STEWART, _whose arms are pinioned._)

CAMPBELL. Did I no' tell ye! And this, Mrs. Stewart, will be your
dead sister's son, I'm thinking; or aiblins your leddyship's
butler! Weel, woman, I'll tell ye this: Pharaoh spared ae butler,
but Erchie Campbell will no' spare anither. Na! na! Pharaoh's
case is no' to be taken as forming ony preceedent. And so if he
doesna answer certain questions we have to speir at him, before
morning he'll hang as high as Haman.

(STEWART _is placed before the table at which_ CAMPBELL _has seated
himself. Two soldiers guard_ STEWART. _Another is behind_ CAMPBELL'S
_chair and another is by the door. The clerk_, MACKENZIE, _is seated
at up corner of table._ SANDEMAN _stands by the fire._)

CAMPBELL (_to STEWART_). Weel, sir, it is within the cognizance of
the law that you have knowledge and information of the place of
harbor and concealment used by certain persons who are in a state
of proscription. Furthermore, it is known that four days ago
certain other proscribed persons did join with these, and that
they are banded together in an endeavor to secure the escape from
these dominions of His Majesty, King George, of certain persons
who by their crimes and treasons lie open to the capital charge.
What say ye?

(STEWART _makes no reply._)

CAMPBELL. Ye admit this then?

(STEWART _as before._)

CAMPBELL. Come, come, my lad. Ye stand in great jeopardy. Great
affairs of state lie behind this which are beyond your simple
understanding. Speak up and it will be the better for ye.

(STEWART _silent as before._)

CAMPBELL. Look you. I'll be frank with you. No harm will befall
you this night--and I wish all in this house to note my words--no
harm will befall you this night if you supply the information

(STEWART _as before._)

CAMPBELL (_with sudden passion_). Sandeman, put your sword to the
carcass o' this muckle ass and see will it louse his tongue.

STEWART. It may be as well then, Mr. Campbell, that I should say
a word to save your breath. It is this: Till you talk Rannoch
Loch to the top of Schiehallion, ye'll no' talk me into a yea or

CAMPBELL (_quietly_). Say ye so? Noo, I widna be so very sure if I
were you. I've had a lairge experience o' life, and speaking out
of it I would say that only fools and the dead never change their

STEWART (_quietly too_). Then you'll be adding to your experience
to-night, Mr. Campbell, and you'll have something to put on to
the other side of it.

CAMPBELL (_tapping his snuff-box_). Very possibly, young sir, but
what I would present for your consideration is this: While ye may
be prepared to keep your mouth shut under the condition of a
fool, are ye equally prepared to do so in the condition of a dead

(CAMPBELL _waits expectantly._ STEWART _silent as before._)

CAMPBELL. Tut, tut, now, if it's afraid ye are, my lad, with my
hand on my heart and on my word as a gentleman--

STEWART. Afraid!

(_He spits in contempt towards_ CAMPBELL.)

CAMPBELL (_enraged_). Ye damned stubborn Hieland stot. (_To_
SANDEMAN) Have him taken out. We'll get it another way.

(CAMPBELL _rises._ STEWART _is moved into barn by soldiers._)

CAMPBELL (_walking_). Some puling eediots, Sandeman, would applaud
this contumacy and call it constancy. Constancy! Now, I've had a
lairge experience o' life, and I never saw yet a sensible man
insensible to the touch of yellow metal. If there may be such a
man, it is demonstrable that he is no sensible man. Fideelity!
quotha, it's sheer obstinacy. They just see that ye want
something oot o' them, and they're so damned selfish and thrawn
they winna pairt. And with the natural inabeelity o' their brains
to hold mair than one idea at a time they canna see that in
return you could put something into their palms far more
profitable. (_Sits again at table._) Aweel, bring Mistress Stewart

(_Old woman is placed before him where son had been._)

CAMPBELL (_more ingratiatingly_). Weel noo, Mistress Stewart, good
woman, this is a sair predeecament for ye to be in. I would jist
counsel ye to be candid. Doubtless yer mind is a' in a swirl. Ye
kenna what way to turn. Maybe ye are like the Psalmist and say:
"I lookit this way and that, and there was no man to peety me, or
to have compassion upon my fatherless children." But, see now, ye
would be wrong; and, if ye tell me a' ye ken, I'll stand freends
wi' ye. Put your trust in Erchie Campbell.

MARY STEWART. I trust no Campbell.

CAMPBELL. Weel, weel noo, I'm no' jist that set up wi' them
myself. There's but ae Campbell that I care muckle aboot, after
a'. But, good wife, it's no' the Campbells we're trying the noo;
so as time presses we'll jist "_birze yont_," as they say
themselves. Noo then, speak up.

(MARY STEWART _is silent._)

CAMPBELL (_beginning grimly and passing through astonishment,
expostulation, and a feigned contempt for mother and pity for
son, to a pretence of sadness which, except at the end, makes his
words come haltingly_). Ah! ye also. I suppose ye understand,
woman, how it will go wi' your son? (_To his clerk_) Here's a fine
mother for ye, James! Would you believe it? She kens what would
save her son--the very babe she nursed at her breast; but will
she save him? Na! na! Sir, he may look after himself! A mother, a
mother! Ha! ha!

(CAMPBELL _laughs._ MACKENZIE _titters foolishly._ CAMPBELL _pauses to
watch effect of his words._)

Aye, you would think, James, that she would remember the time
when he was but little and afraid of all the terrors that walk in
darkness, and how he looked up to her as to a tower of safety,
and would run to her with outstretched hands, hiding his face
from his fear, in her gown. The darkness! It is the dark night
and a long journey before him now.

(_He pauses again._)

You would think, James, that she would mind how she happit him
from the cold of winter and sheltered him from the summer heats,
and, when he began to find his footing, how she had an eye on a'
the beasts of the field and on the water and the fire that were
become her enemies--And to what purpose all this care?--tell me
that, my man, to what good, if she is to leave him at the last to
dangle from a tree at the end of a hempen rope--to see his flesh
given to be meat for the fowls of the air--her son, her little

MARY STEWAET. My son is guilty of no crime!

CAMPBELL. Is he no'! Weel, mistress, as ye'll no' take my word
for it, maybe ye'll list to Mr. Mackenzie here. What say ye,

MACKENZIE. He is guilty of aiding and abetting in the concealment
of proscribed persons; likewise with being found in the
possession of arms, contrary to statute, both very heinous

CAMPBELL. Very well said, James! Forby, between ourselves, Mrs.
Stewart, the young man in my opeenion is guilty of another crime
(_snuffs_)--he is guilty of the heinous crime of not knowing on
which side his bread is buttered.--Come now--

MARY STEWART. Ye durst not lay a finger on the lad, ye durst not
hang him.

MACKENZIE. And why should the gentleman not hang him if it
pleesure him?

(CAMPBELL _taps snuff-box and takes pinch._)

MARY STEWART (_with intensity_). Campbell of Kilmhor, lay but one
finger on Dugald Stewart and the weight of Ben Cruachan will be
light to the weight that will be laid on your soul. I will lay
the curse of the seven rings upon your life: I will call up the
fires of Ephron, the blue and the green and the gray fires, for
the destruction of your soul: I will curse you in your homestead
and in the wife it shelters and in the children that will never
bear your name. Yea, and ye shall be cursed.

CAMPBELL. (_Startled--betrays agitation--the snuff is spilled from
his trembling hand._) Hoot toot, woman! ye're, ye're--(_Angrily_) Ye
auld beldame, to say such things to me! I'll have ye first
whippet and syne droont for a witch. Damn thae stubborn and
supersteetious cattle! (_To_ SANDEMAN) We should have come in here
before him and listened in the barn, Sandeman!

SANDEMAN. Ah, listen behind the door you mean! Now I never
thought of that!

CAMPBELL. Did ye not! Humph! Well, no doubt there are a good many
things in the universe that yet wait for your thought upon them.
What would be your objections, now?

SANDEMAN. There are two objections, Kilmhor, that you would

CAMPBELL. Name them.

SANDEMAN. Well, in the first place, we have not wings like crows
to fly--and the footsteps on the snow--Second point--the woman
would have told him we were there.

CAMPBELL. Not if I told her I had power to clap her in Inverness

MARY STEWART (_in contempt_). Yes, even if ye had told me ye had
power to clap me in hell, Mr. Campbell.

CAMPBELL. Lift me that screeching Jezebel oot o' here; Sandeman,
we'll mak' a quick finish o' this. (_Soldiers take her towards
barn._) No, not there; pitch the old girzie into the snow.

MARY STEWART. Ye'll never find him, Campbell, never, never!

CAMPBELL (_enraged_). Find him! Aye, by God I'll find him, if I
have to keek under every stone on the mountains from the Boar of
Badenoch to the Sow of Athole. (_Old woman and soldiers go
outside._) And now, Captain Sandeman, you an' me must have a word
or two. I noted your objection to listening ahint doors and so
on. Now, I make a' necessary allowances for youth and the grand
and magneeficent ideas commonly held, for a little while, in that
period. I had them myself. But, man, gin ye had trod the floor of
the Parliament Hoose in Edinburry as long as I did, wi' a pair o'
thin hands at the bottom o' toom pockets, ye'd ha'e shed your
fine notions, as I did. Noo, fine pernickety noansense will no'
do in this business--


CAMPBELL. Softly, softly, Captain Sandeman, and hear till what I
have to say. I have noticed with regret several things in your
remarks and bearing which are displeasing to me. I would say just
one word in your ear; it is this. These things, Sandeman, are not
conducive to advancement in His Majesty's service.

SANDEMAN. Kilmhor, I am a soldier, and if I speak out my mind,
you must pardon me if my words are blunt. I do not like this
work, but I loathe your methods.

CAMPBELL. Mislike the methods you may, but the work ye must do!
Methods are my business. Let me tell you the true position. In ae
word it is no more and no less than this. You and me are baith
here to carry out the proveesions of the Act for the Pacification
of the Highlands. That means the cleaning up of a very big mess,
Sandeman, a very big mess. Now, what is your special office in
this work? I'll tell ye, man; you and your men are just beesoms
in the hands of the law-officers of the Crown. In this district,
I order and ye soop! (_He indicates door of barn._) Now soop,
Captain Sandeman.

SANDEMAN (_in some agitation_). What is your purpose? What are you
after? I would give something to see into your mind.

CAMPBELL. Ne'er fash aboot my mind: what has a soldier to do with
ony mental operations? It's His Grace's orders that concern you.
Oot wi' your man and set him up against the wa'.

SANDEMAN. Kilmhor, it is murder--murder, Kilmhor!

CAMPBELL. Hoots, awa', man, it's a thing o' nae special

SANDEMAN. I must ask you for a warrant.

CAMPBELL. Quick then: Mackenzie will bring it out to you.

(CLERK _begins writing._ SANDEMAN _and soldiers lead_ STEWART
_outside_, CAMPBELL _sits till they are out._ CLERK _finishes_,
CAMPBELL _signs warrant--and former goes._ CAMPBELL _is alone,
save for_ MORAG CAMERON, _who is sitting huddled up on stool by
fire, and is unnoticed by_ CAMPBELL.)

CAMPBELL (_as one speaking his thoughts aloud_). I've been beaten
for a' that. A strange thing, noo. Beforehand I would ha'e said
naething could be easier. And yet--and yet--there it is!... It
would have been a grand stroke for me.... Cluny--Keppoch--Lochiel,
and maybe ... maybe--Hell! when I think of it! Just a whispered
word--a mere pointed finger would ha'e telled a'. But no! their
visions, their dreams beat me. "You'll be adding to your
experience to-night, Mr. Campbell, and have something to put to
the other side of it," says he; aye, and by God I have added
something to it, and it is a thing I like but little--that a
dream can be stronger than a strong man armed.--Here come I,
Archibald Campbell of Kilmhor, invested with authority as
law-officer of the Crown, bearing in my hand the power of life
and death, fire and the sword, backed up by the visible authority
of armed men, and yet I am powerless before the dreams of an old
woman and a half-grown lad--soldiers and horses and the gallows
and yellow gold are less than the wind blowing in their
faces.--It is a strange thing that: it is a thing I do not
understand.--It is a thing fit to sicken a man against the notion
that there are probabeelities on this earth.--have been beaten
for a' that. Aye, the pair o' them have beat me--though it's a
matter of seconds till one of them be dead.

MORAG (_starting into upright position and staring at him; her
voice is like an echo to his_). Dead!

CAMPBELL (_turning hastily_). What is that!

MORAG. Is he dead?

CAMPBELL (_grimly_). Not yet, but if ye'll look through this window
(_he indicates window_) presently, ye'll see him gotten ready for

(_He begins to collect articles of personal property, hat, etc._)

MORAG. I will tell you.

CAMPBELL (_astounded_). What!

MORAG. I will tell you all you are seeking to know.

CAMPBELL (_quietly_). Good God, and to think, to think I was on the
very act--in the very act of--tell me--tell me at once.

MORAG. You will promise that he will not be hanged?

CAMPBELL. He will not. I swear it.

MORAG. You will give him back to me?

CAMPBELL. I will give him back unhung.

MORAG. Then (CAMPBELL _comes near_), in a corrie half-way up the
far side of Dearig--God save me!

CAMPBELL. Dished after a'. I've clean dished them! Loard, Loard!
once more I can believe in the rationality of Thy world. (_Gathers
up again his cloak, hat, etc._) And to think--to think--I was on
the very act of going away like a beaten dog!

MORAG. He is safe from hanging now?

CAMPBELL (_chuckles and looks out at window before replying, and
is at door when he speaks_). Very near it, very near it. Listen!

(_He holds up his hand--a volley of musketry is heard. KILMHOR
goes out, closing the door behind him. After a short interval of
silence the old woman enters and advances a few steps._)

MARY STEWART. Did you hear, Morag Cameron, did you hear?

(_The girl is sobbing, her head on her arms._)

MARY STEWART. Och! be quiet now; I would be listening till the
last sound of it passes into the great hills and over all the
wide world.--It is fitting for you to be crying, a child that
cannot understand; but water shall never wet eye of mine for
Dugald Stewart. Last night I was but the mother of a lad that
herded sheep on the Athole hills: this morn it is I that am the
mother of a man who is among the great ones of the earth. All
over the land they will be telling of Dugald Stewart. Mothers
will teach their children to be men by him. High will his name be
with the teller of fine tales.--The great men came, they came in
their pride, terrible like the storm they were, and cunning with
words of guile were they. Death was with them.... He was but a
lad, a young lad, with great length of days before him, and the
grandeur of the world. But he put it all from him. "Speak," said
they, "speak, and life and great riches will be for yourself."
But he said no word at all! Loud was the swelling of their wrath!
Let the heart of you rejoice, Morag Cameron, for the snow is red
with his blood. There are things greater than death. Let them
that are children shed the tears.

(_She comes forward and lays her hand on the girl's shoulder._)

MARY STEWART. Let us go and lift him into the house, and not be
leaving him lie out there alone.



John Glasworthy

SCENE: A GIRL sits crouched over her knees on a stile close to a
river. A MAN with a silver badge stands beside her clutching the
worn top plank. THE GIRL'S level brows are drawn together; her
eyes see her memories. THE MAN'S eyes see THE GIRL; he has a
dark, twisted face. The bright sun shines; the quiet river flows;
the cuckoo is calling; the mayflower is in bloom along the hedge
that ends in the stile on the towing-path.

[Footnote 1: From _Scribner's Magazine_, May, 1919.
Copyright by Charles Scribner's Sons; included by special
permission of the writer and publishers.]

THE GIRL. God knows what 'e'll say, Jim.

THE MAN. Let 'im. 'E's come too late, that's all.

THE GIRL. He couldn't come before. I'm frightened. 'E was fond o'

THE MAN. And aren't I fond of you? My Gawd!

THE GIRL. I ought to 'a' waited, Jim; with 'im in the fightin'.

THE MAN (_passionately_). And what about me? Aren't I been in the
fightin'--earned all I could get?

THE GIRL (_touching him_). Ah!

THE MAN. Did you--

(_He cannot speak the words._)

THE GIRL. Not like you, Jim--not like you.

THE MAN. 'Ave a spirit, then.

THE GIRL. I promised 'im.

THE MAN. One man's luck'a another's poison. I've seen it.

THE GIRL. I ought to 'a' waited. I never thought 'e'd come back
from the fightin'.

THE MAN (_grimly_). Maybe 'e'd better not 'ave.

THE GIRL (_looking back along the tow-path_). What'll 'e be like, I

THE MAN (_gripping her shoulder_). Daise, don't you never go back
on me, or I should kill you, and 'im too.

(THE GIRL _looks at him, shivers, and puts her lips to his._)

THE GIRL. I never could.

THE MAN. Will you run for it? 'E'd never find us.

(THE GIRL _shakes her head._)

THE MAN (_dully_). What's the good o' stayin'? The world's wide.

THE GIRL. I'd rather have it off me mind, with him 'ome.

THE MAN (_clenching his hands_). It's temptin' Providence.

THE GIRL. What's the time, Jim?

THE MAN (_glancing at the sun_). 'Alf past four.

THE GIRL (_looking along the towing-path_). 'E said four o'clock.
Jim, you better go.

THE MAN. Not I. _I've_ not got the wind up. I've seen as
much of hell as he has, any day. What like is he?

THE GIRL (_dully_). I dunno, just. I've not seen 'im these three
years. I dunno no more, since I've known you.

THE MAN. Big, or little chap?

THE GIRL. 'Bout your size. Oh! Jim, go along!

THE MAN. No fear! What's a blighter like that to old Fritz's
shells? We didn't shift when they was comin'. If you'll go, I'll
go; not else.

(_Again she shakes her head._)

THE GIRL. Jim, do you love me true? (_For answer_, THE MAN _takes
her avidly in his arms._) I ain't ashamed--I ain't ashamed. If 'e
could see me 'eart.

THE MAN. Daise! If I'd known you out there I never could 'a'
stuck it. They'd 'a' got me for a deserter. That's 'ow I love

THE GIRL. Jim, don't lift your 'and to 'im. Promise!

THE MAN. That's according.

THE GIRL. Promise!

THE MAN. If 'e keeps quiet, I won't. But I'm not accountable--not
always, I tell you straight--not since I've been through that.

THE GIRL (_with a shiver_). Nor p'r'aps 'e isn't.

THE MAN. Like as not. It takes the lynchpins out, I tell you.

THE GIRL. God 'elp us!

THE MAN (_grimly_). Ah! We said that a bit too often. What we want,
we take, now; there's no one to give it us, and there's no
fear'll stop us; we seen the bottom o' things.

THE GIRL. P'r'aps 'e'll say that too.

THE MAN. Then it'll be 'im or me.

THE GIRL. I'm frightened.

THE MAN (_tenderly_). No, Daise, no! (_He takes out a knife._) The
river's 'andy. One more or less. 'E shan't 'arm you; nor me

THE GIRL (_seizing his hand_). Oh! no! Give it to me, Jim!

THE MAN (_smiling_). No fear! (_He puts it away._) Shan't 'ave no
need for it, like as not. All right, little Daise; you can't be
expected to see things like what we do. What's a life, anyway?
I've seen a thousand taken in five minutes. I've seen dead men on
the wires like flies on a fly-paper; I've been as good as dead
meself an 'undred times. I've killed a dozen men. It's nothin'.
'E's safe, if 'e don't get my blood up. If 'e does, nobody's
safe; not 'im, nor anybody else; not even you. I'm speakin'

THE GIRL (_softly_). Jim, you won't go fightin', wi' the sun out
and the birds all callin'?

THE MAN. That depends on 'im. I'm not lookin' for it. Daise, I
love you. I love your eyes. I love your hair. I love you.

THE GIRL. And I love you, Jim. I don't want nothin' more than you
in the whole world.

THE MAN. Amen to that, my dear. Kiss me close!

(_The sound of a voice singing breaks in on their embrace._ THE
GIRL _starts from his arms and looks behind her along the
towing-path._ THE MAN _draws back against the hedge, fingering his
side, where the knife is hidden. The song comes nearer._)

  I'll be right there to-night
  Where the fields are snowy white;
  Banjos ringin', darkies singin'--
  All the world seems bright.

THE GIRL. It's 'im!

THE MAN. Don't get the wind up, Daise. I'm here!

(_The singing stops. A man's voice says: Christ! It's Daise; it's
little Daise 'erself_! THE GIRL _stands rigid. The figure of a
soldier appears on the other side of the stile. His cap is tucked
into his belt, his hair is bright in the sunshine; he is lean,
wasted, brown, and laughing._)

SOLDIER. Daise! Daise! Hallo, old pretty girl!

(THE GIRL _does not move, barring the way, as it were._)

THE GIRL. Hallo, Jack! (_Softly_) I got things to tell you.

SOLDIER. What sort o' things, this lovely day? Why, I got things
that'd take me years to tell. 'Ave you missed me, Daise?

THE GIRL. You been so long.

SOLDIER. So I 'ave. My Gawd! It's a way they 'ave in the Army. I
said when I got out of it I'd laugh. Like as the sun itself I
used to think of you, Daise, when the crumps was comin' over, and
the wind was up. D' you remember that last night in the wood?
"Come back, and marry me quick, Jack!" Well, 'ere I am--got me
pass to 'eaven. No more fightin', an' trampin,' no more sleepin"
rough. We can get married now, Daise. We can live soft an' 'appy.
Give us a kiss, old pretty.

THE GIRL (_drawing back_). No.

SOLDIER (_blankly_). Why not?

(THE MAN, _with a swift movement, steps along the hedge to_ THE
GIRL'S _side._)

THE MAN. That's why, soldier.

SOLDIER (_leaping over the stile_). 'Oo are you, Pompey? The sun
don't shine in your inside, do it? 'Oo is 'e, Daise?

THE GIRL. My man.

SOLDIER. Your--man! Lummy! "Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a
thief"! Well, soldier? So you've been through it, too. I'm
laughin' this mornin', as luck will 'ave it. Ah! I can see your

THE MAN (_who has half drawn his knife_). Don't laugh at _me_,
I tell you.

SOLDIER. Not at you, soldier, not at you. (_He looks from one to
the other._) I'm laughin' at things in general. Where did you get
it, soldier?

THE MAN (_watchfully_). Through the lung.

SOLDIER. Think o' that! An' I never was touched. Four years an'
never was touched. An' so you've come an' took my girl. Nothin'
doin'! Ha! (_Again he looks from one to the other--then away._)
Well! The world's before me. (_He laughs._) I'll give you Daise for
a lung protector.

THE MAN (_fiercely_). You won't. I've took her.

SOLDIER. That's all right, then. You keep 'er. I've got a laugh
in me you can't put out, black as you are! Good-bye, little Daise!

(THE GIRL _makes a movement toward him._)

THE MAN. Don't touch 'im!

(THE GIRL _stands hesitating, and suddenly bursts into tears._)

SOLDIER. Look 'ere, soldier; shake 'ands! I don't want to see a
girl cry, this day of all, with the sun shinin'. I seen too much
o' sorrer. You an' me've been at the back of it. We've 'ad our
whack. Shake!

THE MAN. Who are you kiddin'? You never loved 'er!

SOLDIER. Oh! I thought I did.

THE MAN (_fiercely_). I'll fight you for her.

(_He drops his knife._)

SOLDIER (_slowly_). Soldier, you done your bit, an' I done mine.
It's took us two ways, seemin'ly.

THE GIRL (_pleading_). Jim!

THE MAN (_with clenched fists_). I don't want 'is charity. I only
want what I can take.

SOLDIER. Daise, which of us will you 'ave?

THE GIRL (_covering her face_). Oh! _Him._

SOLDIER. You see, soldier! Drop your 'ands, now. There's nothin'
for it but a laugh. You an' me know that. Laugh, soldier!

THE MAN. You blarsted--

(THE GIRL _springs to him and stops his mouth._)

SOLDIER. It's no use, soldier. I can't do it. I said I'd laugh
to-day, and laugh I will. I've come through that, an' all the
stink of it; I've come through sorrer. Never again! Cheer-o,
mate! The sun's shinin'!

(_He turns away._)

THE GIRL. Jack, don't think too 'ard of me!

SOLDIER (_looking back_). No fear, old pretty girl! Enjoy your
fancy! So long! Gawd bless you both!

(_He sings and goes along the path, and the song_--

  I'll be right there to-night
  Where the fields are snowy white;
  Banjos ringin', darkies singin'--
  All the world seems bright!--

_fades away._)

THE MAN. 'E's mad.

THE GIRL (_looking down the path, with her hands clasped_). The
sun 'as touched 'im, Jim!



Louise Saunders

[Footnote 1: This play is fully protected by copyright and may be
used only with the written permission of, and the payment of
royalty to, Norman Lee Swartout, Summit, New Jersey. Included by
permission of the author and Mr. Swartout.]


  (pronounced Pomp-_di_biley)

(THE MANAGER _appears before the curtain in doublet and hose. He
carries a cap with a long, red feather._)

THE MANAGER (_bowing deeply_). Ladies and gentlemen, you are about
to hear the truth of an old legend that has persisted wrongly
through the ages, the truth that, until now, has been hid behind
the embroidered curtain of a rhyme, about the Knave of Hearts,
who was no knave but a very hero indeed. The truth, you will
agree with me, gentlemen and most honored ladies, is rare! It is
only the quiet, unimpassioned things of nature that seem what
they are. Clouds rolled in massy radiance against the blue, pines
shadowed deep and darkly green, mirrored in still waters, the
contemplative mystery of the hills--these things which exist,
absorbed but in their own existence--these are the perfect
chalices of truth.

But we, gentlemen and thrice-honored ladies, flounder about in a
tangled net of prejudice, of intrigue. We are blinded by
conventions, we are crushed by misunderstanding, we are
distracted by violence, we are deceived by hypocrisy, until only
too often villains receive the rewards of nobility and the truly
great-hearted are suspected, distrusted, and maligned.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, for the sake of justice and also, I
dare to hope, for your approval, I have taken my puppets down
from their dusty shelves. I have polished their faces, brushed
their clothes, and strung them on wires, so that they may enact
for you this history.

(_He parts the curtains, revealing two_ PASTRY COOKS _in flaring
white caps and spotless aprons leaning over in stiff profile,
their wooden spoons, three feet long, pointing rigidly to the
ceiling. They are in one of the kitchens of_ POMPDEBILE THE
EIGHTH, KING OF HEARTS. _It is a pleasant kitchen, with a row of
little dormer windows and a huge stove, adorned with the crest of_
POMPDEBILE--_a heart rampant, on a gold shield._)

THE MANAGER. You see here, ladies and gentlemen, two pastry cooks
belonging to the royal household of Pompdebile the Eighth--Blue
Hose and Yellow Hose, by name. At a signal from me they will
spring to action, and as they have been made with astonishing
cleverness, they will bear every semblance of life. Happily,
however, you need have no fear that, should they please you, the
exulting wine of your appreciation may go to their heads--their
heads being but things of wire and wood; and happily, too, as
they are but wood and wire, they will be spared the shame and
humiliation that would otherwise be theirs should they fail to
meet with your approval.

The play, most honored ladies and gentlemen, will now begin.

(_He claps his hands. Instantly the two_ PASTRY COOKS _come to life._
THE MANAGER _bows himself off the stage._)

BLUE HOSE. Is everything ready for this great event?

YELLOW HOSE. Everything. The fire blazing in the stove, the
Pages, dressed in their best, waiting in the pantry with their
various jars full of the finest butter, the sweetest sugar, the
hottest pepper, the richest milk, the--

BLUE HOSE. Yes, yes, no doubt. (_Thoughtfully_) It is a great
responsibility, this that they have put on our shoulders.

YELLOW HOSE. Ah, yes. I have never felt more important.

BLUE HOSE. Nor I more uncomfortable.

YELLOW HOSE. Even on the day, or rather the night, when I awoke
and found myself famous--I refer to the time when I laid before
an astonished world my creation, "Humming birds' hearts souffle,
au vin blanc"--I did not feel more important. It is a pleasing

BLUE HOSE. I like it not at all. It makes me dizzy, this eminence
on which they have placed us. The Lady Violetta is slim and fair.
She does not, in my opinion, look like the kind of person who is
capable of making good pastry. I have discovered through long
experience that it is the heaviest women who make the lightest
pastry, and _vice versa._ Well, then, suppose that she does
not pass this examination--suppose that her pastry is lumpy,
white like the skin of a boiled fowl.

YELLOW HOSE. Then, according to the law of the Kingdom of Hearts,
we must condemn it, and the Lady Violetta cannot become the bride
of Pompdebile. Back to her native land she will be sent, riding a

BLUE HOSE. And she is so pretty, so exquisite! What a law! What
an outrageous law!

YELLOW HOSE. Outrageous law! How dare you! There is nothing so
necessary to the welfare of the nation as our art. Good cooks
make good tempers, don't they? Must not the queen set an example
for the other women to follow? Did not our fathers and our
grandfathers before us judge the dishes of the previous queens of

BLUE HOSE. I wish I were mixing the rolls for to-morrow's

YELLOW HOSE. Bah! You are fit for nothing else. The affairs of
state are beyond you.

(_Distant sound of trumpets._)

BLUE HOSE (_nervously_). What's that?

YELLOW HOSE. The King is approaching! The ceremonies are about to

BLUE HOSE. Is everything ready?

YELLOW HOSE. I told you that everything was ready. Stand still;
you are as white as a stalk of celery.

BLUE HOSE (_counting on his fingers_). Apples, lemons, peaches,
jam--Jam! Did you forget jam?

YELLOW HOSE. Zounds, I did!

BLUE HOSE (_wailing_). We are lost!

YELLOW HOSE. She may not call for it.

(_Both stand very erect and make a desperate effort to appear

BLUE HOSE (_very nervous_). Which door? Which door?

YELLOW HOSE. The big one, idiot. Be still!

(_The sound of trumpets increases, and cries of "Make way for the
King." Two_ HERALDS _come in and stand on either side of the door.
The_ KING OF HEARTS _enters, followed by ladies and gentlemen of
the court._ POMPDEBILE _is in full regalia, and very imposing
indeed with his red robe bordered with ermine, his crown and
sceptre. After him comes the_ CHANCELLOR, _an old man with a short,
white beard. The_ KING _strides in a particularly kingly fashion,
pointing his toes in the air at every step, toward his throne,
and sits down. The_ KNAVE _walks behind him slowly. He has a sharp,
pale face._)

POMPDEBILE (_impressively_). Lords and ladies of the court, this is
an important moment in the history of our reign. The Lady
Violetta, whom you love and respect--that is, I mean to say, whom
the ladies love and the lords--er--respect, is about to prove
whether or not she be fitted to hold the exalted position of
Queen of Hearts, according to the law, made a thousand years ago
by Pompdebile the Great, and steadily followed ever since. She
will prepare with her own delicate, white hands a dish of pastry.
This will be judged by the two finest pastry cooks in the land.

(BLUE HOSE _and_ YELLOW HOSE _bow deeply._)

If their verdict be favorable, she shall ride through the streets
of the city on a white palfrey, garlanded with flowers. She will
be crowned, the populace will cheer her, and she will reign by
our side, attending to the domestic affairs of the realm, while
we give our time to weightier matters. This of course you all
understand is a time of great anxiety for the Lady Violetta. She
will appear worried--(_To_ CHANCELLOR) The palfrey is in readiness,
we suppose.

CHANCELLOR. It is, Your Majesty.

POMPDEBILE. Garlanded with flowers?

CHANCELLOR. With roses, Your Majesty.

KNAVE (_bowing_). The Lady Violetta prefers violets, Your Majesty.

POMPDEBILE. Let there be a few violets put in with the
roses--er--We are ready for the ceremony to commence. We confess
to a slight nervousness unbecoming to one of our station. The
Lady Violetta, though trying at times, we have found--er--shall
we say--er--satisfying?

KNAVE (_bowing_). Intoxicating, Your Majesty?

CHANCELLOR (_shortly_). His Majesty means nothing of the sort.

POMPDEBILE. No, of course not--er--The mule--Is that--did you--?

CHANCELLOR (_in a grieved tone_). This is hardly necessary. Have I
ever neglected or forgotten any of your commands, Your Majesty?

POMPDEBILE. You have, often. However, don't be insulted. It takes
a great deal of our time and it is most uninteresting.

CHANCELLOR (_indignantly_). I resign, Your Majesty.

POMPDEBILE. Your thirty-seventh resignation will be accepted
to-morrow. Just now it is our wish to begin at once. The anxiety
that no doubt gathered in the breast of each of the seven
successive Pompdebiles before us seems to have concentrated in
ours. Already the people are clamoring at the gates of the palace
to know the decision. Begin. Let the Pages be summoned.

KNAVE (_bowing_). Beg pardon, Your Majesty; before summoning the
Pages, should not the Lady Violetta be here?

POMPDEBILE. She should, and is, we presume, on the other side of
that door--waiting breathlessly.

(THE KNAVE _quietly opens the door and closes it._)

KNAVE (_bowing_). She is not, Your Majesty, on the other side of
that door waiting breathlessly. In fact, to speak plainly, she is
not on the other side of that door at all.

POMPDEBILE. Can that be true? Where are her ladies?

KNAVE. They are all there, Your Majesty.

POMPDEBILE. Summon one of them.

(THE KNAVE _goes out, shutting the door. He returns, following_
URSULA, _who, very much frightened, throws herself at the_ KING'S

POMPDEBILE. Where is your mistress?

URSULA. She has gone, Your Majesty.

POMPDEBILE. Gone! Where has she gone?

URSULA. I do not know, Your Majesty. She was with us a while ago,
waiting there, as you commanded.

POMPDEBILE. Yes, and then--speak.

URSULA. Then she started out and forbade us to go with her.

POMPDEBILE. The thought of possible divorce from us was more than
she could bear. Did she say anything before she left?

URSULA (_trembling_). Yes, Your Majesty.

POMPDEBILE. What was it? She may have gone to self-destruction.
What was it?

URSULA. She said--

POMPDEBILE. Speak, woman, speak.

URSULA. She said that Your Majesty--

POMPDEBILE. A farewell message! Go on.

URSULA (_gasping_). That Your Majesty was "pokey" and that she
didn't intend to stay there any longer.

POMPDEBILE (_roaring_). _Pokey!!_

URSULA. Yes, Your Majesty, and she bade me call her when you
came, but we can't find her, Your Majesty.

(_The_ PASTRY COOKS _whisper._ URSULA _is in tears._)

CHANCELLOR. This should not be countenanced, Your Majesty. The
word "pokey" cannot be found in the dictionary. It is the most
flagrant disrespect to use a word that is not in the dictionary
in connection with a king.

POMPDEBILE. We are quite aware of that, Chancellor, and although
we may appear calm on the surface, inwardly we are swelling,
_swelling_, with rage and indignation.

KNAVE (_looking out the window_). I see the Lady Violetta in the
garden. (_He goes to the door and holds it open, bowing._) The Lady
Violetta is at the door, Your Majesty.

(_Enter the_ LADY VIOLETTA, _her purple train over her arm. She has
been running._)

VIOLETTA. Am I late? I just remembered and came as fast as I
could. I bumped into a sentry and he fell down. I didn't. That's
strange, isn't it? I suppose it's because he stands in one
position so long he--Why, Pompy dear, what's the matter? Oh, oh!
(_Walking closer_) Your feelings are hurt!

POMPDEBILE. _Don't_ call us Pompy. It doesn't seem to matter
to you whether you are divorced or not.

VIOLETTA (_anxiously_). Is that why your feelings are hurt?

POMPDEBILE. Our feelings are not hurt, not at all.

VIOLETTA. Oh, yes, they are, Pompdebile dear. I know, because
they are connected with your eyebrows. When your feelings go
down, up go your eyebrows, and when your feelings go up, they go

POMPDEBILE (_severely_). Where have you been?

VIOLETTA. I, just now?

POMPDEBILE. Just now, when you should have been outside that door
waiting _breathlessly._

VIOLETTA. I was in the garden. Really, Pompy, you couldn't expect
me to stay all day in that ridiculous pantry; and as for being
breathless, it's quite impossible to be it unless one has been
jumping or something.

POMPDEBILE. What were you doing in the garden?

VIOLETTA (_laughing_). Oh, it was too funny. I must tell you. I
found a goat there who had a beard just like the Chancellor's--really
it was quite remarkable, the resemblance--in other ways too. I
took him by the horns and I looked deep into his eyes, and I
said, "Chancellor, if you try to influence Pompy--"

POMPDEBILE (_shouting_). Don't call us Pompy.

VIOLETTA. Excuse me, Pomp--

(_Checking herself._)

KNAVE. And yet I think I remember hearing of an emperor, a great
emperor, named Pompey.

POMPDEBILE. We know him not. Begin at once; the people are
clamoring at the gates. Bring the ingredients.

(_The_ PASTRY COOKS _open the door, and, single file, six little
boys march in, bearing large jars labeled butter, salt, flour,
pepper, cinnamon, and milk. The_ COOKS _place a table and a large
bowl and a pan in front of the_ LADY VIOLETTA _and give her a
spoon. The six little boys stand three on each side._)

VIOLETTA. Oh, what darling little ingredients. May I have an
apron, please?

(URSULA _puts a silk apron, embroidered with red hearts, on the_

BLUE HOSE. We were unable to find a little boy to carry the
pepper, My Lady. They all _would_ sneeze in such a disturbing

VIOLETTA. This is a perfectly controlled little boy. He hasn't
sneezed once.

YELLOW HOSE. That, if it please Your Ladyship, is not a little

VIOLETTA. Oh! How nice! Perhaps she will help me.

CHANCELLOR (_severely_). You are allowed no help, Lady Violetta.

VIOLETTA. Oh, Chancellor, how cruel of you. (_She takes up the
spoon, bowing._) Your Majesty, Lords and Ladies of the court, I
propose to make (_impressively_) raspberry tarts.

BLUE HOSE. Heaven be kind to us!

YELLOW HOSE (_suddenly agitated_). Your Majesty, I implore your
forgiveness. There is no raspberry jam in the palace.

POMPDEBILE What! Who is responsible for this carelessness?

BLUE HOSE. I gave the order to the grocer, but it didn't come.
(_Aside_) I knew something like this would happen. I knew it.

VIOLETTA (_untying her apron_). Then, Pompdebile, I'm very
sorry--we shall have to postpone it.

CHANCELLOR. If I may be allowed to suggest, Lady Violetta can
prepare something else.

KNAVE. The law distinctly says that the Queen-elect has the
privilege of choosing the dish which she prefers to prepare.

VIOLETTA. Dear Pompdebile, let's give it up. It's such a silly
law! Why should a great splendid ruler like you follow it just
because one of your ancestors, who wasn't half as nice as you
are, or one bit wiser, said to do it? Dearest Pompdebile, please.

POMPDEBILE. We are inclined to think that there may be something
in what the Lady Violetta says.

CHANCELLOR. I can no longer remain silent. It is due to that
brilliant law of Pompdebile the First, justly called the Great,
that all members of our male sex are well fed, and, as a natural
consequence, happy.

KNAVE. The happiness of a set of moles who never knew the

POMPDEBILE. If we made an effort, we could think of a new
law--just as wise. It only requires effort.

CHANCELLOR. But the constitution. We can't touch the

POMPDEBILE (_starting up_). We shall destroy the constitution!

CHANCELLOR. The people are clamoring at the gates!

POMPDEBILE. Oh, I forgot them. No, it has been carried too far.
We shall have to go on. Proceed.

VIOLETTA. Without the raspberry jam?

POMPDEBILE (_to_ KNAVE). Go you, and procure some. I will give a
hundred golden guineas for it.

(_The little boy who holds the cinnamon pot comes forward._)

BOY. Please, Your Majesty, I have some.


BOY. In my pocket. If someone would please hold my cinnamon
jar--I could get it.

(UBSULA _takes it. The boy struggles with his pocket and finally,
triumphantly, pulls out a small jar._)


VIOLETTA. How clever of you! Do you always do that?

BOY. What--eat raspberry jam?

VIOLETTA. No, supply the exact article needed from your pocket.

BOY. I eat it for my lunch. Please give me the hundred guineas.

VIOLETTA. Oh, yes--Chancellor--if I may trouble you.

(_Holding out her hand._)

CHANCELLOR. Your Majesty, this is an outrage! Are you going to
allow this?

POMPDEBILE (_sadly_). Yes, Chancellor. We have such an impulsive

(_The_ LADY VIOLETTA _receives the money._)

VIOLETTA. Thank you. (_She gives it to the boy._) Now we are ready
to begin. Milk, please. (_The boy who holds the milk jar comes
forward and kneels._) I take some of this milk and beat it well.

YELLOW HOSE (_in a whisper_). _Beat_ it--milk!

VIOLETTA. Then I put in two tablespoonfuls of salt, taking great
care that it falls exactly in the middle of the bowl. (_To the
little boy_) Thank you, dear. Now the flour, no, the pepper, and
then--one pound of butter. I hope that it is good butter, or the
whole thing will be quite spoiled.

BLUE HOSE. This is the most astonishing thing I have ever

YELLOW HOSE. I don't understand it.

VIOLETTA (_stirring_). I find that the butter is _not_ very
good. It makes a great difference. I shall have to use more
pepper to counteract it. That's better. (_She pours in pepper. The
boy with the pepper pot sneezes violently._) Oh, oh, dear! Lend
him your handkerchief, Chancellor. Knave, will you? (YELLOW HOSE
_silences the boy's sneezes with the_ KNAVE'S _handkerchief._) I
think that they are going to turn out very well. Aren't you glad,
Chancellor? You shall have one if you will be glad and smile
nicely--a little brown tart with raspberry jam in the middle. Now
for a dash of vinegar.

COOKS (_in horror_). Vinegar! Great Goslings! Vinegar!

VIOLETTA (_stops stirring_). Vinegar will make them crumbly. Do you
like them crumbly, Pompdebile, darling? They are really for you,
you know, since I am trying, by this example, to show all the
wives how to please all the husbands.

POMPDEBILE. Remember that they are to go in the museum with the
tests of the previous Queens.

VIOLETTA (_thoughtfully_). Oh, yes, I had forgotten that. Under the
circumstances, I shall omit the vinegar. We don't want them too
crumbly. They would fall about and catch the dust so frightfully.
The museum-keeper would never forgive me in years to come. Now I
dip them by the spoonful on this pan; fill them with the nice
little boy's raspberry jam--I'm sorry I have to use it all, but
you may lick the spoon--put them in the oven, slam the door. Now,
my Lord Pompy, the fire will do the rest.

(_She curtsies before the_ KING.)

POMPDEBILE. It gave us great pleasure to see the ease with which
you performed your task. You must have been practising for weeks.
This relieves, somewhat, the anxiety under which we have been
suffering and makes us think that we would enjoy a game of
checkers once more. How long a time will it take for your
creation to be thoroughly done, so that it may be tested?

VIOLETTA (_considering_). About twenty minutes, Pompy.

POMPDEBILE (_to_ HERALD). Inform the people. Come, we will retire.
(_To_ KNAVE) Let no one enter until the Lady Violetta commands.

(_All exit, left, except the_ KNAVE. _He stands in deep thought, his
chin in hand--then exits slowly, right. The room is empty. The
cuckoo clock strikes. Presently both right and left doors open
stealthily. Enter_ LADY VIOLETTA _at one door, the_ KNAVE _at the
other, backward, looking down the passage. They turn suddenly and
see each other._)

VIOLETTA (_tearfully_). O Knave, I can't cook! Anything--anything
at all, not even a baked potato.

KNAVE. So I rather concluded, My Lady, a few minutes ago.

VIOLETTA (_pleadingly_). Don't you think it might just happen that
they turned out all right? (_Whispering_) Take them out of the
oven. Let's look.

KNAVE. That's what I intended to do before you came in. It's
possible that a miracle has occurred.

(_He tries the door of the oven._)

VIOLETTA. Look out; it's hot. Here, take my handkerchief.

KNAVE. The gods forbid, My Lady.

(_He takes his hat, and, folding it, opens the door and brings out
the pan, which he puts on the table softly._)

VIOLETTA (_with a look of horror_) How queer! They've melted or
something. See, they are quite soft and runny. Do you think that
they will be good for anything, Knave?

KNAVE. For paste, My Lady, perhaps.

VIOLETTA. Oh, dear. Isn't it dreadful!

KNAVE. It is.

VIOLETTA (_beginning to cry_). I don't want to be banished,
especially on a mule--

KNAVE. Don't cry, My Lady. It's very--upsetting.

VIOLETTA. I would make a delightful queen. The fêtes that I would
give--under the starlight, with soft music stealing from the
shadows, fêtes all perfume and deep mystery, where the young--like
you and me, Knave--would find the glowing flowers of youth ready
to be gathered in all their dewy freshness!


VIOLETTA. Those stupid tarts! And wouldn't I make a pretty
picture riding on the white palfrey, garlanded with flowers,
followed by the cheers of the populace--Long live Queen Violetta,
long live Queen Violetta! Those _abominable_ tarts!

KNAVE. I'm afraid that Her Ladyship is vain.

VIOLETTA. I am indeed. Isn't it fortunate?

KNAVE. Fortunate?

VIOLETTA. Well, I mean it would be fortunate if I were going to
be queen. They get so much flattery. The queens who don't adore
it as I do must be bored to death. Poor things! I'm never so
happy as when I am being flattered. It makes me feel all warm and
purry. That is another reason why I feel sure I was _made_
to be a queen.

KNAVE (_looking ruefully at the pan_). You will never be queen, My
Lady, unless we can think of something quickly, some plan--

VIOLETTA. Oh, yes, dear Knave, please think of a plan at once.
Banished people, I suppose, have to comb their own hair, put on
their shoes, and button themselves up the back. I have never
performed these estimable and worthy tasks, Knave. I don't know
how; I don't even know how to scent my bath. I haven't the least
idea what makes it smell deliciously of violets. I only know that
it always _does_ smell deliciously of violets because I wish
it that way. I should be miserable; save me, Knave, please.

KNAVE. My mind is unhappily a blank, Your Majesty.

VIOLETTA. It's very unjust. Indeed, it's unjust! No other queen
in the world has to understand cooking; even the Queen of Spades
doesn't. Why should the Queen of Hearts, of all people!

KNAVE. Perhaps it is because--I have heard a proverb: "The way to
the heart is through the--"

VIOLETTA (_angrily, stamping her foot_). Don't repeat that hateful
proverb! Nothing can make me more angry. I feel like crying when
I hear it, too. Now see, I'm crying. You made me.

KNAVE. Why does that proverb make you cry, My Lady?

VIOLETTA. Oh, because it is such a stupid proverb and so silly,
because it's true in most cases, and because--I don't know why.

KNAVE. We are a set of moles here. One might also say that we are
a set of mules. How can moles or mules either be expected to
understand the point of view of a Bird of Paradise when she--

VIOLETTA. Bird of Paradise! Do you mean me?

KNAVE (_bowing_). I do, My Lady, figuratively speaking.

VIOLETTA (_drying her eyes_). How very pretty of you! Do you know,
I think that you would make a splendid chancellor.

KNAVE. Her Ladyship is vain, as I remarked before.

VIOLETTA (_coldly_). As I remarked before, how fortunate. Have you
anything to suggest--a plan?

KNAVE. If only there were time my wife could teach you. Her
figure is squat, round, her nose is clumsy, and her eyes stumble
over it; but her cooking, ah--(_He blows a kiss_) it is a thing to
dream about. She cooks as naturally as the angels sing. The
delicate flavors of her concoctions float over the palate like
the perfumes of a thousand flowers. True, her temper, it is
anything but sweet--However, I am conceded by many to be the most
happily married man in the kingdom.

VIOLETTA (_sadly_). Yes. That's all they care about here. One may
be, oh, so cheerful and kind and nice in every other way, but if
one can't cook nobody loves one at all.

KNAVE. Beasts! My higher nature cries out at them for holding
such views. Fools! Swine! But my lower nature whispers that
perhaps after all they are not far from right, and as my lower
nature is the only one that ever gets any encouragement--

VIOLETTA. Then you think that there is nothing to be done--I
shall have to be banished?

KNAVE. I'm afraid--Wait, I have an idea! (_Excitedly_) Dulcinea, my
wife--her name is Dulcinea--made known to me this morning, very
forcibly--Yes, I remember, I'm sure--Yes, she was going to bake
this very morning some raspberry tarts--a dish in which she
particularly excels--If I could only procure some of them and
bring them here!

VIOLETTA. Oh, Knave, dearest, sweetest Knave, could you, I mean,
would you? Is there time? The court will return.

(_They tiptoe to the door and listen stealthily._)

KNAVE. I shall run as fast as I can. Don't let anyone come in
until I get back, if you can help it.

(_He jumps on the table, ready to go out the window._)

VIOLETTA. Oh, Knave, how clever of you to think of it. It is the
custom for the King to grant a boon to the Queen at her
coronation. I shall ask that you be made Chancellor.

KNAVE (_turning back_). Oh, please don't, My Lady, I implore you.

VIOLETTA. Why not?

KNAVE. It would give me social position, My Lady, and that I
would rather die than possess. Oh, how we argue about that, my
wife and I! Dulcinea wishes to climb, and the higher she climbs,
the less she cooks. Should you have me made Chancellor, she would
never wield a spoon again.

VIOLETTA (_pursing her lips_). But it doesn't seem fair, exactly.
Think of how much I shall be indebted to her. If she enjoys
social position, I might as well give her some. We have lots and
lots of it lying around.

KNAVE. She wouldn't, My Lady, she wouldn't enjoy it. Dulcinea is
a true genius, you understand, and the happiness of a genius lies
solely in using his gift. If she didn't cook she would be
miserable, although she might not be aware of it, I'm perfectly

VIOLETTA. Then I shall take all social position away from you.
You shall rank below the scullery maids. Do you like that better?
Hurry, please.

KNAVE. Thank you, My Lady; it will suit me perfectly.

(_He goes out with the tarts._ VIOLETTA _listens anxiously for a
minute; then she takes her skirt between the tips of her fingers
and practises in pantomime her anticipated ride on the palfrey.
She bows, smiles, kisses her hand, until suddenly she remembers
the mule standing outside the gates of the palace. That thought
saddens her, so she curls up in_ POMPDEBILE'S _throne and cries
softly, wiping away her tears with a lace handkerchief. There is
a knock. She flies to the door and holds it shut._)

VIOLETTA (_breathlessly_). Who is there?

CHANCELLOR. It is I, Lady Violetta. The King wishes to return.

VIOLETTA (_alarmed_). Return! Does he? But the tarts are not done.
They are not done at all!

CHANCELLOR. You said they would be ready in twenty minutes. His
Majesty is impatient.

VIOLETTA. Did you play a game of checkers with him, Chancellor?


VIOLETTA. And did you beat him?

CHANCELLOR (_shortly_). I did not.

VIOLETTA (_laughing_). How sweet of you! Would you mind doing it
again just for me? Or would it be too great a strain on you to
keep from beating him twice in succession?

CHANCELLOR. I shall tell the King that you refuse admission.

(VIOLETTA _runs to the window to see if the_ KNAVE _is in sight. The_
CHANCELLOR _returns and knocks._)

CHANCELLOR. The King wishes to come in.

VIOLETTA. But the checkers!

CHANCELLOR. The Knights of the Checker Board have taken them

VIOLETTA. But the tarts aren't done, really.

CHANCELLOR. You said twenty minutes.

VIOLETTA. No, I didn't--at least, I said twenty minutes for them
to get good and warm and another twenty minutes for them to
become brown. That makes forty--don't you remember?

CHANCELLOR. I shall carry your message to His Majesty.

(VIOLETTA _again runs to the window and peers anxiously up the

CHANCELLOR (_knocking loudly_). The King commands you to open the

VIOLETTA. Commands! Tell him--Is he there--with you?

CHANCELLOR. His Majesty is at the door.

VIOLETTA. Pompy, I think you are rude, very rude indeed. I don't
see how you can be so rude--to command me, your own Violetta who
loves you so. (_She again looks in vain for the_ KNAVE.) Oh, dear!
(_Wringing her hands_) Where can he be!

POMPDEBILE (_outside_). This is nonsense. Don't you see how worried
we are? It is a compliment to you--

VIOLETTA. Well, come in; I don't care--only I'm sure they are not

(_She opens the door for the_ KING, the CHANCELLOR, _and the two_
PASTRY COOKS. _The_ KING _walks to his throne. He finds_ LADY
VIOLETTA'S _lace handkerchief on it._)

POMPDEBILE (_holding up handkerchief_). What is this?

VIOLETTA. Oh, that's my handkerchief.

POMPDEBILE. It is very damp. Can it be that you are anxious, that
you are afraid?

VIOLETTA. How silly, Pompy. I washed my hands, as one always does
after cooking; (_to the_ PASTRY COOKS) doesn't one? But there was
no towel, so I used my handkerchief instead of my petticoat,
which is made of chiffon and is very perishable.

CHANCELLOR. Is the Lady Violetta ready to produce her work?

VIOLETTA. I don't understand what you mean by work, Chancellor.
Oh, the tarts! (_Nervously_) They were quite simple--quite simple
to make--no work at all--A little imagination is all one needs
for such things, just imagination. You agree with me, don't you,
Pompy, that imagination will work wonders--will do almost
anything, in fact? I remember--

POMPDEBILE. The Pastry Cooks will remove the tarts from the oven.

VIOLETTA. Oh, _no_, Pompy! They are not finished or cooked,
or whatever one calls it. They are not. The last five minutes is
of the greatest importance. Please don't let them touch them!

POMPDEBILE. There, there, my dear Violetta, calm yourself. If you
wish, they will put them back again. There can be no harm in
looking at them. Come, I will hold your hand.

VIOLETTA. That will help a great deal, Pompy, your holding my

(_She scrambles up on the throne beside the_ KING.)

CHANCELLOR (_in horror_). On the throne, Your Majesty?

POMPDEBILE. Of course not, Chancellor. We regret that you are not
yet entitled to sit on the throne, my dear. In a little while--

VIOLETTA (_coming down_). Oh, I see. May I sit here, Chancellor, in
this seemingly humble position at his feet? Of course, I can't
_really_ be humble when he is holding my hand and enjoying
it so much.

POMPDEBILE. Violetta! (_To the_ PASTRY COOKS) Sample the tarts.
This suspense is unbearable!

(_The_ KING'S _voice is husky with excitement. The two_ PASTRY COOKS,
_after bowing with great ceremony to the_ KING, _to each other, to
the_ CHANCELLOR--_for this is the most important moment of their
lives by far--walk to the oven door and open it, impressively.
They fall back in astonishment so great that they lose their
balance, but they quickly scramble to their feet again_).

YELLOW HOSE. Your Majesty, there are no tarts there!

BLUE HOSE. Your Majesty, the tarts have gone!

VIOLETTA (_clasping her hands_). Gone! Oh, where could they have

POMPDEBILB (_coming down from throne_). That is impossible.

PASTRY COOKS (_greatly excited_). You see, you see, the oven is
empty as a drum.

POMPDEBILE (_to_ VIOLETTA). Did you go out of this room?

VIOLETTA (_wailing_). Only for a few minutes, Pompy, to powder my
nose before the mirror in the pantry. (_To_ PASTRY COOKS) When one
cooks one becomes so disheveled, doesn't one? But if I had
thought for one little minute--

POMPDEBILE (_interrupting_). The tarts have been stolen!

VIOLETTA (_with a shriek, throwing herself on a chair_). Stolen!
Oh, I shall faint; help me. Oh, oh, to think that any one would
take my delicious little, my dear little tarts. My salts. Oh! Oh!

(PASTRY COOKS _run to the door and call._)

YELLOW HOSE. Salts! Bring the Lady Violetta's salts.

BLUE HOSE. The Lady Violetta has fainted!

(URSULA _enters hurriedly bearing a smelling-bottle._)

URSULA. Here, here--What has happened? Oh, My Lady, my sweet

POMPDEBILE. Some wretch has stolen the tarts.

(LADY VIOLETTA _moans._)

URSULA. Bring some water. I will take off her headdress and bathe
her forehead.

VIOLETTA (_sitting up_). I feel better now. Where am I? What is the
matter? I remember. Oh, my poor tarts!

(_She buries her face in her hands._)

CHANCELLOR (_suspiciously_). Your Majesty, this is very strange.

URSULA (_excitedly_). I know, Your Majesty. It was the Knave. One
of the Queen's women, who was walking in the garden, saw the
Knave jump out of this window with a tray in his hand. It was the

VIOLETTA. Oh, I don't think it was he. I don't, really.

POMPDEBILE. The scoundrel. Of course it was he. We shall banish
him for this or have him _beheaded._

CHANCELLOR. It should have been done long ago, Your Majesty.

POMPDEBILE. You are right.

CHANCELLOR. Your Majesty will never listen to me.

POMPDEBILE. We _do_ listen to you. Be quiet.

VIOLETTA. What are you going to do, Pompy, dear?

POMPDEBILE. Herald, issue a proclamation at once. Let it be known
all over the Kingdom that I desire that the Knave be brought here
dead or alive. Send the royal detectives and policemen in every

CHANCELLOR. Excellent; just what I should have advised had Your
Majesty listened to me.

POMPDEBILE (_in a rage_). Be quiet. (_Exit_ HERALD.) I never have a
brilliant thought but you claim it. It is insufferable!

(_The_ HERALDS _can be heard in the distance._)


POMPDEBILE. Good. We accept your thirty-eighth resignation at

CHANCELLOR. You did me the honor to appoint me as your
Chancellor, Your Majesty, yet never, never do you give me an
opportunity to chancel. That is my only grievance. You must
admit, Your Majesty, that as your advisers advise you, as your
dressers dress you, as your hunters hunt, as your bakers bake,
your Chancellor should be allowed to chancel. However, I will be
just--as I have been with you so long; before I leave you, I will
give you a month's notice.

POMPDEBILE. That isn't necessary.

CHANCELLOR (_referring to the constitution hanging at his belt_).
It's in the constitution.


VIOLETTA. Well, I think as things have turned out so--so
unfortunately, I shall change my gown. (_To_ URSULA) Put out my
cloth of silver with the moonstones. It is always a relief to
change one's gown. May I have my handkerchief, Pompy? Rather a
pretty one, isn't it, Pompy? Of course you don't object to my
calling you Pompy now. When I'm in trouble it's a comfort, like
holding your hand.

POMPDEBILE (_magnanimously_). You may hold our hand too, Violetta.

VIOLETTA (_fervently_). Oh, how good you are, how sympathetic! But
you see it's impossible just now, as I have to change my
gown--unless you will come with me while I change.

CHANCELLOR (_in a voice charged with inexpressible horror_). Your

POMPDEBILE. Be quiet! You have been discharged! (_He starts to
descend, when a_ HERALD _bursts through the door in a state of
great excitement. He kneels before_ POMPDEBILE.)

HERALD. We have found him; we have found him, Your Majesty. In
fact,_I_ found him all by myself! He was sitting under the
shrubbery eating a tart. I stumbled over one of his legs and
fell. "How easy it is to send man and all his pride into the
dust," he said, and then--I saw him!

POMPDEBILE. Eating a tart! Eating a tart, did you say? The
scoundrel! Bring him here immediately.

(_The_ HERALD _rushes out and returns with the_ KNAVE, _followed
by the six little_ PAGES. _The_ KNAVE _carries a tray of tarts in
his hand._)

POMPDEBILE (_almost speechless with rage_). How dare

KNAVE (_bowing_). Knave, Your Majesty.

POMPDEBILE. You Knave, you shall be punished for this.

CHANCELLOR. Behead him, Your Majesty.

POMPDEBILE. Yes, behead him at once.

VIOLETTA. Oh, no, Pompy, not that! It is not severe enough.

POMPDEBILE. Not severe enough, to cut off a man's head! Really,

VIOLETTA. No, because, you see, when one has been beheaded, one's
consciousness that one has been beheaded comes off too. It is
inevitable. And then, what does it matter, when one doesn't know?
Let us think of something really cruel--really fiendish. I have
it--deprive him of social position for the rest of his life--force
him to remain a mere knave, forever.

POMPDEBILE. You are right.

KNAVE. Terrible as this punishment is, I admit that I deserve it,
Your Majesty.

POMPDEBILE. What prompted you to commit this dastardly crime?

KNAVE. All my life I have had a craving for tarts of any kind.
There is something in my nature that demands tarts--something in
my constitution that cries out for them--and I obey my
constitution as rigidly as does the Chancellor seek to obey his.
I was in the garden reading, as is my habit, when a delicate odor
floated to my nostrils, a persuasive odor, a seductive, light
brown, flaky odor, an odor so enticing, so suggestive of tarts
fit for the gods--- that I could stand it no longer. It was
stronger than I. With one gesture I threw reputation, my chances
for future happiness, to the winds, and leaped through the
window. The odor led me to the oven; I seized a tart, and, eating
it, experienced the one perfect moment of my existence. After
having eaten that one tart, my craving for other tarts has
disappeared. I shall live with the memory of that first tart
before me forever, or die content, having tasted true perfection.

POMPDEBILE. M-m-m, how extraordinary! Let him be beaten fifteen
strokes on the back. Now, Pastry Cooks to the Royal Household, we
await your decision!

(_The_ COOKS _bow as before; then each selects a tart from the
tray on the table, lifts it high, then puts it in his mouth. An
expression of absolute ecstasy and beatitude comes over their
faces. They clasp hands, then fall on each other's necks,

POMPDEBILE (_impatiently_). What on earth is the matter?

YELLOW HOSE. Excuse our emotion. It is because we have at last
encountered a true genius, a great master, or rather mistress, of
our art.

(_They bow to_ VIOLETTA.)

POMPDEBILE. They are good, then?

BLUE HOSE (_his eyes to heaven_). Good! They are angelic!

POMPDEBILE. Give one of the tarts to us. We would sample it.

(_The_ PASTRY COOKS _hand the tray to the KING, who selects a
tart and eats it._)

POMPDEBILE (_to_ VIOLETTA). My dear, they are marvels! marvels!
(_He comes down from the throne and leads_ VIOLETTA _up to the
dais._) Your throne, my dear.

VIOLETTA (_sitting down, with a sigh_). I'm glad it's such a
comfortable one.

POMPDEBILE. Knave, we forgive your offense. The temptation was
very great. There are things that mere human nature cannot be
expected to resist. Another tart, Cooks, and yet another!

CHANCELLOR. But, Your Majesty, don't eat them all. They must go
to the museum with the dishes of the previous Queens of Hearts.

YELLOW HOSE. A museum--those tarts! As well lock a rose in a

CHANCELLOR. But the constitution commands it. How else can we
commemorate, for future generations, this event?

KNAVE. An Your Majesty, please, I will commemorate it in a rhyme.

POMPDEBILE. How can a mere rhyme serve to keep this affair in the
minds of the people?

KNAVE. It is the only way to keep it in the minds of the people.
No event is truly deathless unless its monument be built in
rhyme. Consider that fall which, though insignificant in itself,
became the most famous of all history, because someone happened
to put it into rhyme. The crash of it sounded through centuries
and will vibrate for generations to come.

VIOLETTA. You mean the fall of the Holy Roman Empire?

KNAVE. No, Madam, I refer to the fall of Humpty Dumpty.

POMPDEBILE. Well, make your rhyme. In the meantime let us
celebrate. You may all have one tart. (_The_ PASTRY COOKS _pass
the tarts. To_ VIOLETTA) Are you willing, dear, to ride the white
palfrey garlanded with flowers through the streets of the city?

VIOLETTA. Willing! I have been practising for days!

POMPDEBILE. The people, I suppose, are still clamoring at the

VIOLETTA. Oh, yes, they must clamor. I _want_ them to. Herald,
tell them that to every man I shall toss a flower, to every woman
a shining gold piece, but to the babies I shall throw only
kisses, thousands of them, like little winged birds. Kisses and
gold and roses! They will surely love me then!

CHANCELLOR. Your Majesty, I protest. Of what possible use to the

POMPDEBILE. Be quiet. The Queen may scatter what she pleases.

KNAVE. My rhyme is ready, Your Majesty.

POMPDEBILE. Repeat it.


  The Queen of Hearts
  She made some tarts
  All on a summer's day.
  The Knave of Hearts
  He stole those tarts
  And took them quite away.

  The King of Hearts
  Called for those tarts
  And beat the Knave full sore.
  The Knave of Hearts
  Brought back the tarts
  And vowed he'd sin no more.

VIOLETTA (_earnestly_). My dear Knave, how wonderful of you! You
shall be Poet Laureate. A Poet Laureate has no social position,
has he?

KNAVE. It depends, Your Majesty, upon whether or not he chooses
to be more laureate than poet.

VIOLETTA (_rising, her eyes closed in ecstasy_). _Your
Majesty!_ Those words go to my head--like wine!

KNAVE. Long live Pompdebile the Eighth, and Queen Violetta!

(_The trumpets sound._)

HERALDS. Make way for Pompdebile the Eighth, and Queen Violetta!

VIOLETTA (_excitedly_). _Vee_-oletta, please!

HERALDS. Make way for Pompdebile the Eighth, and Queen

(_The_ KING _and_ QUEEN _show themselves at the door--and the people
can be heard clamoring outside._)



Lord Dunsany

[Footnote 1: Reprinted from the _Atlantic Monthly_ for June,
1919, by special permission of Lord Dunsany and the editors of
the _Atlantic Monthly._]

SCENE: The Poet's rooms in London. Windows in back. A high screen
in a corner.

TIME: February 30th.



(_This name, though of course of French origin, has become
anglicized and is pronounced_ DE REEVES.)

DICK PRATTLE.--A Lieutenant-Major of the Royal Horse Marines.


(_The_ POET _is sitting at a table, writing. Enter_ DICK PRATTLE.)

PRATTLE. Hullo, Harry.

DE REVES. Hullo, Dick. Good Lord, where are you from?

PRATTLE (_casually_). The ends of the Earth.

DE REVES. Well, I'm damned!

PRATTLE. Thought I'd drop in and see how you were getting on.

DE REVES. Well, that's splendid. What are you doing in London?

PRATTLE. Well, I wanted to see if I could get one or two decent
ties to wear,--you can get nothing out there,--then I thought
I'd have a look and see how London was getting on.

DE REVES. Splendid! How's everybody?

PRATTLE. All going strong.

DE REVES. That's good.

PRATTLE. (_seeing paper and ink_). But what are you doing?

DE REVES. Writing.

PRATTLE. Writing? I didn't know you wrote.

DE REVES. Yes, I've taken to it rather.

PRATTLE. I say--writing's no good. What do you write?

DE REVES. Oh, poetry.

PRATTLE. Poetry? Good Lord!

DE REVES. Yes, that sort of thing, you know.

PRATTLE. Good Lord! Do you make any money by it?

DE REVES. No. Hardly any.

PRATTLE. I say--why don't you chuck it?

DE REVES. Oh, I don't know. Some people seem to like my stuff,
rather. That's why I go on.

PRATTLE. I'd chuck it if there's no money in it.

DE REVES. Ah, but then it's hardly in your line, is it? You'd
hardly approve of poetry if there _was_ money in it.

PRATTLE. Oh, I don't say that. If I could make as much by poetry
as I can by betting I don't say I wouldn't try the poetry touch,

DE REVES. Only what?

PRATTLE. Oh, I don't know. Only there seems more sense in
betting, somehow.

DE REVES. Well, yes. I suppose it's easier to tell what an
earthly horse is going to do, than to tell what Pegasus--

PRATTLE. What's Pegasus?

DE REVES. Oh, the winged horse of poets.

PRATTLE. I say! You don't believe in a winged horse, do you?

DE REVES. In our trade we believe in all fabulous things. They
all represent some large truth to turn us. An emblem like Pegasus
is as real a thing to a poet as a Derby winner would be to you.

PRATTLE. I say. (_Give me a cigarette. Thanks._) What? Then you'd
believe in nymphs and fauns, and Pan, and all those kind of

DE REVES. Yes. Yes. In all of them.

PRATTLE. Good Lord!

DE REVES. You believe in the Lord Mayor of London, don't you?

PRATTLE. Yes, of course; but what has--

DE REVES. Four million people or so made him Lord Mayor, didn't
they? And he represents to them the wealth and dignity and
tradition of--

PRATTLE. Yes; but, I say, what has all this--

DE REVES. Well, he stands for an idea to them, and they made him
Lord Mayor, and so he is one....

PRATTLE. Well, of course he is.

DE REVES. In the same way Pan has been made what he is by
millions; by millions to whom he represents world-old traditions.

PRATTLE. (_rising from his chair and stepping backwards, laughing
and looking at the POET in a kind of assumed wonder_). I say.... I
say.... You old heathen ... but Good Lord....

(_He bumps into the high screen behind, pushing it back a little._)

DE REVES. Look out! Look out!

PRATTLE. What? What's the matter?

DE REVES. The screen!

PRATTLE. Oh, sorry, yes. I'll put it right.

(_He is about to go round behind it._)

DE REVES. No, don't go round there.

PRATTLE. What? Why not?

DE REVES. Oh, you wouldn't understand.

PRATTLE. Wouldn't understand? Why, what have you got?

DE REVES. Oh, one of those things.... You wouldn't understand.

PRATTLE. Of course I'd understand. Let's have a look. (_The_ POET
_walks toward_ PRATTLE _and the screen. He protests no further._
PRATTLE _looks round the corner of the screen._) An altar.

DE REVES. (_removing the screen altogether_). That is all. What do
you make of it?

(_An altar of Greek design, shaped like a pedestal, is revealed.
Papers litter the floor all about it._)

PRATTLE. I say--you always were an untidy devil.

DE REVES. Well, what do you make of it?

PRATTLE. It reminds me of your room at Eton.

DE REVES. My room at Eton?

PRATTLE. Yes, you always had papers all over your floor.

DE REVES. Oh, yes--

PRATTLE. And what are these?

DE REVES. All these are poems; and this is my altar to Fame.


DE REVES. The same that Homer knew.

PRATTLE. Good Lord!

DE REVES. Keats never saw her. Shelley died too young. She came
late at the best of times, now scarcely ever.

PRATTLE. But, my dear fellow, you don't mean that you think there
really is such a person?

DE REVES. I offer all my songs to her.

PRATTLE. But you don't mean you think you could actually
_see_ Fame?

DE REVES. We poets personify abstract things, and not poets only
but sculptors and painters too. All the great things of the world
are those abstract things.

PRATTLE. But what I mean is they're not really there, like you or

DE REVES. To us these things are more real than men, they outlive
generations, they watch the passing of Kingdoms: we go by them
like dust; they are still here, unmoved, unsmiling.

PRATTLE. But, but, you can't think that you could _see_
Fame, you don't expect to _see_ it.

DE REVES. Not to me. Never to me. She of the golden trumpet and
Greek dress will never appear to me.... We all have our dreams.

PRATTLE. I say--what have you been doing all day?

DE REVES. I? Oh, only writing a sonnet.

PRATTLE. Is it a long one?

DE REVES. Not very.

PRATTLE. About how long is it?

DE REVES. About fourteen lines.

PRATTLE (_impressively_). I tell you what it is.


PRATTLE. I tell you what. You've been overworking yourself. I
once got like that on board the Sandhurst, working for the
passing-out exam. I got so bad that I could have seen anything.

DE REVES. Seen anything?

PRATTLE. Lord, yes: horned pigs, snakes with wings, anything, one
of your winged horses even. They gave me some stuff called
bromide for it. You take a rest.

DE REVES. But my dear fellow, you don't understand at all. I
merely said that abstract things are to a poet as near and real
and visible as one of your bookmakers or barmaids.

PRATTLE. I know. You take a rest.

DE REVES. Well, perhaps I will. I'd come with you to that musical
comedy you're going to see, only I'm a bit tired after writing
this; it's a tedious job. I'll come another night.

PRATTLE. How do you know I'm going to see a musical comedy?

DE REVES. Well, where would you go? _Hamlet's_ on at the
Lord Chamberlain's. You're not going there.

PBATTLE. Do I look like it?


PRATTLE. Well, you're quite right. I'm going to see "The Girl
from Bedlam." So long. I must push off now. It's getting late.
You take a rest. Don't add another line to that sonnet;
fourteen's quite enough. You take a rest. Don't have any dinner
to-night, just rest. I was like that once myself. So long.

DE REVES. So long.

(_Exit_ PRATTLE. DE REVES _returns to his table and sits down._)

Good old Dick. He's the same as ever. Lord, how time passes.

(_He takes his pen and his sonnet and makes a few alterations._)

Well, that's finished. I can't do any more to it.

(_He rises and goes to the screen; he draws back part of it and
goes up to the altar. He is about to place his sonnet reverently
at the foot of the altar amongst his other verses._)

No, I will not put it there. This one is worthy of the altar.

(_He places the sonnet upon the altar itself._)

If that sonnet does not give me Fame, nothing that I have done
before will give it to me, nothing that I ever will do.

(_He replaces the screen and returns to his chair at the table.
Twilight is coming on. He sits with his elbow on the table, his
head on his hand, or however the actor pleases._)

Well, well. Fancy seeing Dick again. Well, Dick enjoys his life,
so he's no fool. What was that he said? "There's no money in
poetry. You'd better chuck it." Ten years' work and what have I
to show for it? The admiration of men who care for poetry, and
how many of _them_ are there? There's a bigger demand for
smoked glasses to look at eclipses of the sun. Why should Fame
come to me? Haven't I given up my days for her? That is enough to
keep her away. I am a poet; that is enough reason for her to
slight me. Proud and aloof and cold as marble, what does Fame
care for us? Yes, Dick is right. It's a poor game chasing
illusions, hunting the intangible, pursuing dreams. Dreams? Why,
we are ourselves dreams. (_He leans back in his chair._)

                       We are such stuff
  As dreams are made on, and our little life
  Is rounded with a sleep.

(_He is silent for a while. Suddenly he lifts his head_)

My room at Eton, Dick said. An untidy mess.

(_As he lifts his head and says these words, twilight gives place
to broad daylight, merely as a hint that the author of the play
may have been mistaken, and the whole thing may have been no more
than a poet's dream._)

So it was, and it's an untidy mess there (_looking at screen_) too.
Dick's right. I'll tidy it up. I'll burn the whole damned heap.
(_He advances impetuously toward the screen_) Every damned poem
that I was ever fool enough to waste my time on.

(_He pushes back the screen._ FAME _in a Greek dress with a long
golden trumpet in her hand is seen standing motionless on the
altar like a marble goddess._)

So ... you have come!

(_For a while he stands thunderstruck. Then he approaches the

Divine fair lady, you have come.

(_He holds up his hands to her and leads her down from the altar
and into the centre of the stage. At whatever moment the actor
finds it most convenient, he repossesses himself of the sonnet
that he had placed on the altar. He now offers it to_ FAME.)

This is my sonnet. Is it well done?

(FAME _takes it, reads it in silence, while the_ POET _watches her

FAME. You're a bit of all right.


FAME. Some poet.

DE REVES. I--I--scarcely ... understand.

FAME. You're IT.

DE REVES. But ... it is not possible ... are you she that knew Homer?

FAME. Homer? Lord, yes. Blind old bat, 'e couldn't see a yard.

DE REVES. O Heavens!

(FAME _walks beautifully to the window. She opens it and puts her
head out._)

FAME (_in a voice with which a woman in an upper story would cry
for help if the house was well alight_). Hi! Hi! Boys! Hi! Say,
folks! Hi!

(_The murmur of a gathering crowd is heard._ FAME _blows her

FAME. Hi, he's a poet. (_Quickly, over her shoulder._) What's your

DE REVES. De Reves.

FAME. His name's de Reves.

DE REVES. Harry de Reves.

FAME. His pals call him Harry.

THE CROWD. Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

FAME. Say, what's your favourite color?

DE REVES. I ... I ... I don't quite understand.

FAME. Well, which do you like best, green or blue?

DE REVES. Oh--er--blue. (_She blows her trumpet out of the
window._) No--er--I think green.

FAME. Green is his favourite colour.

THE CROWD. Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

FAME. 'Ere, tell us something. They want to know all about yer.

DE REVES; Wouldn't you perhaps ... would they care to hear my
sonnet, if you would--er....

FAME (_picking up quill_). Here, what's this?

DE REVES. Oh, that's my pen.

FAME (_after another blast on her trumpet_). He writes with a
quill. (_Cheers from_ THE CROWD.)

FAME (_going to a cupboard_). Here, what have you got in here?

DE REVES. Oh ... er ... those are my breakfast things.

FAME (_finding a dirty plate_). What have yer had on this one?

DE REVES (_mournfully_). Oh, eggs and bacon.

FAME (_at the window_). He has eggs and bacon for breakfast.

THE CROWD. Hip hip hip _hooray!_ Hip hip hip _hooray!_
Hip hip hip _hooray!_

FAME. Hi, and what's this?

DE REVES (_miserably_). Oh, a golf stick.

FAME. He's a man's man! He's a virile man! He's a manly man!

(_Wild cheers from_ THE CROWD, _this time only from women's voices._)

DE REVES. Oh, this is terrible. This is terrible. This is

(FAME _gives another peal on her horn. She is about to speak._)

DE REVES (_solemnly and mournfully_). One moment, one moment....

FAME. Well, out with it.

DE REVES. For ten years, divine lady, I have worshipped you,
offering all my songs ... I find ... I find I am not worthy....

FAME. Oh, you're all right.

DE REVES. No, no, I am not worthy. It cannot be. It cannot
possibly be. Others deserve you more. I must say it! _I cannot
possibly love you._ Others are worthy. You will find others.
But I, no, no, no. It cannot be. It cannot be. Oh, pardon me, but
it _must_ not.

(_Meanwhile_ FAME _has been lighting one of his cigarettes. She sits
in a comfortable chair, leans right back, and puts her feet right
up on the table amongst the poet's papers._)

Oh, I fear I offend you. But--it cannot be.

FAME. Oh, that's all right, old bird; no offence. I ain't going
to leave you.

DE REVES. But--but--but--I do not understand.

FAME. I've come to stay, I have.

(_She blows a puff of smoke through her trumpet._)



Beulah Marie Dix

SCENE: In the cheerless hour before the dawn of a wet spring
morning five gentlemen-troopers of the broken Royalist army,
fagged and outworn with three long days of siege, are holding,
with what strength and courage are left them, the Gatehouse of
the Bridge of Cashala, which is the key to the road that leads
into Connaught. The upper chamber of the Gatehouse, in which they
make their stand, is a narrow, dim-lit apartment, built of stone.
At one side is a small fireplace, and beside it a narrow, barred
door, which leads to the stairhead. At the end of the room,
gained by a single raised step, are three slit-like windows,
breast-high, designed, as now used, for defense in time of war.
The room is meagrely furnished, with a table on which are
powder-flask, touch-box, etc., for charging guns, a stool or two,
and an open keg of powder. The whole look of the place, bare and
martial, but depressed, bespeaks a losing fight. On the hearth
the ashes of a fire are white, and on the chimneypiece a brace of
candles are guttering out.

The five men who hold the Gatehouse wear much soiled and torn
military dress. They are pale, powder-begrimed, sunken-eyed, with
every mark of weariness of body and soul. Their leader, JOHN
TALBOT, is standing at one of the shot-windows, with piece
presented, looking forth. He is in his mid-twenties, of
Norman-Irish blood, and distinctly of a finer, more nervous type
than his companions. He has been wounded, and bears his left hand
wrapped in a bloody rag. DICK FENTON, a typical, careless young
English swashbuckler, sits by the table, charging a musket, and
singing beneath his breath as he does so. He, too, has been
wounded, and bears a bandage about his knee. Upon the floor (_at
right_) KIT NEWCOMBE lies in the sleep of utter exhaustion. He is
an English lad, in his teens, a mere tired, haggard child, with
his head rudely bandaged. On a stool by the hearth sits MYLES
BUTLER, a man of JOHN TALBOT'S own years, but a slower, heavier,
almost sullen type. Beside him kneels PHELIMY DRISCOLL, a
nervous, dark Irish lad, of one and twenty. He is resting his
injured arm across BUTLER'S knee, and BUTLER is roughly bandaging
the hurt.

For a moment there is a weary, heavy silence, in which the words
of the song which FENTON sings are audible. It is the doleful old
strain of "the hanging-tune."

[Footnote 1: Included by permission of the author and of Messrs.
Henry Holt and Company, the publishers, from the volume
_Allison's Lad and Other Martial Interludes._ (1910).]

FENTON (_singing_).

Fortune, my foe, why dost thou frown on me,
And will thy favors never greater be?
Wilt thou, I say, forever breed me pain,
And wilt thou not restore my joys again?

BUTLER (_shifting_ DRISCOLL'S _arm, none too tenderly_). More to the

DRISCOLL (_catching breath with pain_). Ah! Softly, Myles!

JOHN TALBOT (_leaning forward tensely_). Ah!

FENTON. Jack! Jack Talbot! What is it that you see?

JOHN TALBOT (_with the anger of a man whose nerves are strained
almost beyond endurance_). What should I see but Cromwell's
watch-fires along the boreen? What else should I see, and the
night as black as the mouth of hell? What else should I see, and
a pest choke your throat with your fool's questions, Dick Fenton!

(_Resumes his watch._)

FENTON (_as who should say: "I thank you!"_). God 'a'
mercy--_Captain_ Talbot!

(_Resumes his singing._)

DRISCOLL. God's love! I bade ye have a care, Myles Butler.

BUTLEK (_tying the last bandage_). It's a stout heart you have in
you, Phelimy Driscoll--you to be crying out for a scratch. It's
better you would have been, you and the like of you, to be
stopping at home with your mother.

(_Rises and takes up his musket from the corner by the fireplace._)

DRISCOLL. You--you dare--you call me--coward? Ye black liar! I'll
lesson ye! I'll--

(_Tries to rise, but in the effort sways weakly forward and rests
with his head upon the stool which_ BUTLER _has quitted._)

BUTLER. A'Heaven's name, ha' done with that hanging tune! Ha'
done, Dick Fenton! We're not yet at the gallows' foot.

(_Joins_ JOHN TALBOT _at the shot-windows._)

FENTON. Nay, Myles, for us 'tis like to be nothing half so merry
as the gallows.

BUTLER. Hold your fool's tongue!

NEWCOMBE (_crying out in his sleep_). Oh! Oh!

JOHN TALBOT. What was that?

FENTON. 'Twas naught but young Newcombe that cried out in the
clutch of a nightmare.

BUTLER. 'Tis time Kit Newcombe rose and stood his watch.

JOHN TALBOT (_leaving the window_). Nay, 'tis only a boy. Let him
sleep while he can! Let him sleep!

BUTLER. Turn and turn at the watch, 'tis but fair. Stir yonder
sluggard awake, Dick!

FENTON. Aye. (_Starts to rise._)

JOHN TALBOT. Who gives commands here? Sit you down, Fenton! To
your place, Myles Butler!

BUTLER. Captain of the Gate! D'ye mark the high tone of him,

JOHN TALBOT (_tying a fresh bandage about his hand_). You're out
there, Myles. There is but one Captain of the Gate of
Connaught--he who set me here--my cousin, Hugh Talbot.

BUTLER (_muttering_). Aye, and it's a deal you'll need to be
growing, ere you fill Hugh Talbot's shoes.

JOHN TALBOT. And that's a true word! But 'twas Hugh Talbot's will
that I should command, here at the Bridge of Cashala. And as long
as breath is in me I--

DRISCOLL (_raising his head heavily_). Water! Water! Myles! Dick!
Will ye give me to drink, lads? Jack Talbot! I'm choked wi'

JOHN TALBOT. There's never a drop of water left us, Phelimy, lad.

FENTON. Owen Bourke drained the last of it, God rest him!

BUTLER. 'Tis likely our clever new Captain of the Gate will hit
on some shift to fill our empty casks.

(DRISCOLL _rises heavily._)

JOHN TALBOT. Not the new Captain of the Gate. The old Captain of
the Gate--Hugh Talbot. He'll be here this day--this hour, maybe.

FENTON. That tale grows something old, Jack Talbot.

JOHN TALBOT. He swore he'd bring us succor. He--

(DRISCOLL _tries to unbar the exit door._)

Driscoll! Are you gone mad? Stand you back from that door!

(_Thrusts_ DRISCOLL _from the door._)

DRISCOLL (_half delirious_). Let me forth! The spring--'tis just
below--there on the river-bank! Let me slip down to it--but a
moment--and drink!

JOHN TALBOT. Cromwell's soldiers hold the spring.

DRISCOLL. I care not! Let me forth and drink! Let me forth!

JOHN TALBOT. 'T would be to your death.

BUTLER. And what will he get but his death if he stay here,
Captain Talbot?

DRISCOLL (_struggling with_ JOHN TALBOT). I'm choked! I'm choked, I
tell ye! Let me go, Jack Talbot! Let me go!

NEWCOMBE (_still half-asleep, rises to his knees, with a terrible
cry, and his groping hands upthrust to guard his head_). God's
pity! No! no! no!

DRISCOLL (_shocked into sanity, staggers back, crossing himself_).
God shield us!

BUTLER. Silence that whelp!

FENTON. Clear to the rebel camp they'll hear him!

JOHN TALBOT (_catching_ NEWCOMBE _by the shoulder_). Newcombe! Kit

NEWCOMBE. Ah, God! Keep them from me! Keep them from me!

JOHN TALBOT. Ha' done! Ha' done!

NEWCOMBE. Not that! Not the butt of the muskets! Not that! Not

JOHN TALBOT (_stifling_ NEWCOMBE'S _outcry with a hand upon his
mouth_). Wake! You're dreaming!

DRISCOLL. 'Tis ill luck! 'Tis ill luck comes of such dreaming!

NEWCOMBE. Drogheda! I dreamed I was at Drogheda, where my
brother--my brother--they beat out his brains--Cromwell's
men--with their clubbed muskets--they--

(_Clings shuddering to_ JOHN TALBOT.)

FENTON. English officers that serve amongst the Irish--'t is thus
that Cromwell uses them!

BUTLER. English officers--aye, like ourselves!

JOHN TALBOT. Be quiet, Kit! You're far from Drogheda--here at
the Bridge of Cashala.

BUTLER. Aye, safe in Cashala Gatehouse, with five hundred of
Cromwell's men sitting down before it.

JOHN TALBOT. Keep your watch, Butler!

NEWCOMBE. You give orders? You still command, Jack? Where's
Captain Talbot, then?

(_Snatches up his sword and rises._)

BUTLER (_quitting the window_). Aye, where _is_ Captain

JOHN TALBOT. You say--

FENTON (_rising_). We all say it.

JOHN TALBOT. Even thou, Dick?

DRISCOLL. He does not come! Hugh Talbot does not come!

FENTON. He bade us hold the bridge one day. We've held it three
days now.

BUTLER. And where is Hugh Talbot with the aid he promised?

JOHN TALBOT. He promised. He has never broken faith. He will
bring us aid.

FENTON. Aye, if he be living!

DRISCOLL. Living? You mean that he--Och, he's dead! Hugh Talbot's
dead! And we're destroyed! We're destroyed!

NEWCOMBE (_cowering_). The butt of the muskets!


(_Deliberately_ BUTLER _lays down his musket._)

JOHN TALBOT. Take up your piece!

BUTLER. Renounce me if I do!

FENTON. I stand with you, Myles Butler. Make terms for us, John
Talbot, or, on my soul, we'll make them for ourselves.

JOHN TALBOT. Surrender?

NEWCOMBE. Will Cromwell spare us, an we yield ourselves now? Will
he spare us? Will he--

FENTON. 'Tis our one chance.

NEWCOMBE. Give me that white rag!

(_Crosses and snatches a bandage from chimneypiece._)

FENTON (_drawing his ramrod_). Here's a staff!

(_Together FENTON and NEWCOMBE make ready a flag of truce._)

JOHN TALBOT (_struggling with_ BUTLER _and_ DRISCOLL). A black curse
on you!

BUTLER. We'll not be butchered like oxen in the shambles!

JOHN TALBOT. Your oaths!

BUTLER. We'll not fight longer to be knocked on the head at the

NEWCOMBE. No! No! Not that! Out with the flag, Dick!

FENTON. A light here at the grating!

(NEWCOMBE _turns to take a candle, obedient to_ FENTON'S _order. At
that moment, close at hand, a bugle sounds._)


DRISCOLL. The bugle! They're upon us!

BUTLER (_releasing his hold on_ JOHN TALBOT). What was that?

JOHN TALBOT. You swore to hold the bridge.

BUTLER. Swore to hold it one day. We've held it three days now.

FENTON. And the half of us are slain.

NEWCOMBE. And we've no water--and no food!

JOHN TALBOT (_pointing to the powder-keg_). We have powder in

DRISCOLL. We can't drink powder. Ah, for God's love, be swift,
Dick Fenton! Be swift!

JOHN TALBOT. You shall not show that white flag!

(_Starts toward_ FENTON, _hand on sword._)

BUTLER (_pinioning_ JOHN TALBOT). God's death! We shall! Help me
here, Phelimy!

JOHN TALBOT. A summons to parley. What see you, Fenton?

FENTON (_at the shot-window_). Torches coming from the boreen, and
a white flag beneath them. I can see the faces. (_With a cry_)
Look, Jack! A'God's name! Look!

(JOHN TALBOT _springs to the window._)

DRISCOLL. What is it you're seeing?

FENTON. It _is_--

JOHN TALBOT (_turning from the window_). 'Tis Hugh Talbot comes!
'Tis the Captain of the Gate!

BUTLER. With them? A prisoner?

JOHN TALBOT. No, no! No prisoner! He wears his sword.

(BUTLER _snatches up his piece and resumes watch._)

FENTON. Then he'll have made terms with them! Terms!

NEWCOMBE (_embracing_ DRISCOLL). Terms for us! Terms for us!

JOHN TALBOT. I told ye truth. He has come. Hugh Talbot has come.

(_Goes to door._)

HUGH TALBOT (_speaks outside_). Open! I come alone, and in peace.
Open unto me!

JOHN TALBOT. Who goes there?

HUGH TALBOT (_outside_). The Captain of the Gate!

(JOHN TALBOT _unbars the door, and bars it again upon the entrance
of_ HUGH TALBOT. _The latter comes slowly into the room. He is a
man in his late thirties, a tall, martial figure, clad in
much-worn velvet and leather, with sword at side. The five salute
him as he enters._)

HUGH TALBOT (_halts and for a moment surveys his followers_). Well,

(_The five stand trembling on the edge of a nervous break, unable
for the moment to speak._)

NEWCOMBE. We thought--we thought--that you--that you--

(_Breaks into childish sobbing._)

FENTON. What terms will they grant us, sir?

JOHN TALBOT. Sir, we have held the bridge.

HUGH TALBOT. You five--

JOHN TALBOT. Bourke is dead, sir, and Tregarris, and Langdale,
and--and James Talbot, my brother.

DRISCOLL. And we've had no water, sir, these many hours.

HUGH TALBOT. So! You're wounded, Phelimy.

DRISCOLL. 'Tis not worth heeding, sir.

HUGH TALBOT. Kit! Kit! (_At the voice_ NEWCOMBE _pulls himself
together._) A light here! Dick, you've your pouch under your hand?

FENTON. 'Tis here, sir.

(_Offers his tobacco pouch._)

HUGH TALBOT (_filling his pipe_). Leave the window, Myles! They've
promised us a half hour's truce--and Cromwell's a man of his

NEWCOMBE (_bringing a lighted candle_). He'll let us pass free now,
sir, will he not?

HUGH TALBOT (_lighting his pipe at the candle_). You're not afraid,

NEWCOMBE. I? Faith, no, sir. No! Not now!

HUGH TALBOT. Sit ye down, Phelimy, lad! You look dead on your
feet. Give me to see that arm! (_As_ HUGH TALBOT _starts toward_
DRISCOLL, _his eye falls on the open keg of powder. He draws back
hastily, covering his lighted pipe._) Jack Talbot! Who taught ye
to leave your powder uncovered, where lighted match was laid?

BUTLER. My blame, sir.

(_Covers the keg._)

JOHN TALBOT. We opened the keg, and then--

FENTON. Truth, we did not cover it again, being somewhat pressed
for time.

(_The five laugh, half hysterically._)

HUGH TALBOT (_sitting by fire_). And you never thought, maybe, that
in that keg there was powder enough to blow the bridge of Cashala
to hell?

JOHN TALBOT. It seemed a matter of small moment, sir.

HUGH TALBOT. Small moment! Powder enough, put case ye set it
there, at the stairhead--d'ye follow me?--powder enough to make
an end of Cashala Bridge for all time--aye, and of all within the
Gatehouse. You never thought on that, eh?

JOHN TALBOT. We had so much to think on, sir.

HUGH TALBOT. I did suspect as much. So I came hither to recall
the powder to your minds.

DRISCOLL. We thought--(BUTLER _motions him to be silent._) We
thought maybe you would not be coming at all, sir. Maybe you
would be dead.

HUGH TALBOT. Well? What an if I had been dead? You had your
orders. You did not dream of giving up the Bridge of Cashala--eh,
Myles Butler?

BUTLER (_after a moment_). No, sir.

HUGH TALBOT. Nor you, Dick Fenton?

FENTON. Sir, I--No!

HUGH TALBOT (_smoking throughout_). Good lads! The wise heads were
saying I was a stark fool to set you here at Cashala. But I said:
I can be trusting the young riders that are learning their
lessons in war from me. I'll be safe putting my honor into their
hands. And I was right, wasn't I, Phelimy Driscoll?

DRISCOLL. Give us the chance, sir, and we'll be holding Cashala,
even against the devil himself!

FENTON. Aye, well said!

HUGH TALBOT. Sure,'tis a passing good substitute for the devil
sits yonder in Cromwell's tent.

NEWCOMBE (_with a shudder_). Cromwell!

HUGH TALBOT. Aye, he was slaying your brother at Drogheda, Kit,
and a fine, gallant lad your brother was. And I'm thinking you're
like him, Kit. Else I shouldn't be trusting you here at Cashala.

NEWCOMBE. I--I--Will they let us keep our swords?

HUGH TALBOT. Well, it's with yourselves it lies, whether you'll
keep them or not.

FENTON. He means--we mean--on what terms, sir, do we surrender?

HUGH TALBOT. Surrender? Terms?

JOHN TALBOT. We thought, sir, from your coming under their white
flag--perhaps you had made terms for us.

HUGH TALBOT. How could I make terms?

NEWCOMBE. Captain!

(_At a look from_ HUGH TALBOT _he becomes silent, fighting for

HUGH TALBOT. How could I make terms that you would hear to?
Cashala Bridge is the gate of Connaught.


HUGH TALBOT. Give Cromwell Cashala Bridge, and he'll be on the
heels of our women and our little ones. At what price would ye be
selling their safety?

DRISCOLL. Cromwell--when he takes us--when he takes us--

NEWCOMBE. He'll knock us on the head!

HUGH TALBOT. Yes. At the last. Your five lives against our
people's safety. You'd not give up the bridge?

JOHN TALBOT. Five? Our five? But you--you are the sixth.

FENTON. You stay with us, Captain. And then we'll fight--you'll
see how we shall fight.

HUGH TALBOT. I shall be seeing you fight, perhaps, but I cannot
stay now at Cashala.


DRISCOLL. Ye won't be staying with us?

BUTLER (_laughing harshly_). Now, on my soul! Is this your faith,
Hugh Talbot? One liar I've followed, Charles Stuart, the son of a
liar, and now a second liar--

JOHN TALBOT (_catching BUTLER'S throat_). A plague choke you!

HUGH TALBOT (_stepping between_ JOHN TALBOT _and_ BUTLER). Ha' done,
Jack! Ha' done! What more, Myles Butler?

BUTLER. Tell us whither you go, when you turn your back on us
that shall die at Cashala--you that come walking under the rebel
flag--that swore to bring us aid--and have not brought it! Tell
us whither you go now!

HUGH TALBOT. Well, I'm a shade doubtful, Myles, my lad, though
hopeful of the best.

BUTLER. 'Tis to Cromwell you go--you that have made your peace
with him--that have sold us--

DRISCOLL. Captain! A' God's name, what is it that you're meaning?

HUGH TALBOT. I mean that you shall hold the Bridge of
Cashala--whatever happen to you--whatever happen to me--

FENTON. To you? Captain Talbot!

HUGH TALBOT. I am going unto Cromwell--as you said, Myles. I gave
my promise.

DRISCOLL. Your promise?

JOHN TALBOT. We--have been very blind. So--they made you

HUGH TALBOT. Aye, Jack. When I tried to cut my way through to
bring you aid. And they granted me this half hour on my parole to
come unto you.

JOHN TALBOT. To come--

HUGH TALBOT. To counsel you to surrender. And I have given you
counsel. Hold the bridge! Hold it! Whatever they do!

DRISCOLL. Captain! Captain Talbot! God of Heaven! If you go
back--'tis killed you'll be among them!

HUGH TALBOT. A little sooner than you lads? Aye, true!

FENTON. They cannot! Even Cromwell--

HUGH TALBOT. Tut, tut, Dick! It's little ye know of Cromwell.

JOHN TALBOT. Then--you mean--

HUGH TALBOT. An you surrender Cashala, we may all six pass free.
An you hold Cashala, they will hang me, here before your eyes.

(DRISCOLL _gives a rattling cry._)

BUTLER. God forgive me!

HUGH TALBOT. You have your orders. Hold the bridge!

(_Turns to door._)

JOHN TALBOT (_barring his way_). No, no! You shan't go forth!

FENTON. God's mercy, no!

HUGH TALBOT. Are you stark crazed?

FENTON. You shall stay with us.

JOHN TALBOT. What's your pledged word to men that know not honor?

HUGH TALBOT. My word. Unbar the door, Jack. Why, lad, we're
traveling the same road.

FENTON. God! But we'll give them a good fight at the last. (_Goes
to the shot-window._) Take up your musket, Kit.

NEWCOMBB. But I--Captain! When you are gone, I--I--

HUGH TALBOT. I'll not be far. You'll hold the bridge?

JOHN TALBOT. Aye, sir.

BUTLER. We've powder enough--you said it, sir,--laid there at the
stairhead, to blow the bridge to hell.

HUGH TALBOT. Aye, Myles, you've hit it!

(_Holds out his hand._)

BUTLER. Not yet, sir!

HUGH TALBOT. Hereafter, then. God speed you, lads!

JOHN TALBOT. Speed you, sir! (_All five stand at salute as_ HUGH
TALBOT _goes out. In the moment's silence upon his exit_, JOHN
TALBOT _bars the door and turns to his comrades._) You have--Hugh
Talbot's orders. Take your pieces! Driscoll! Newcombe!

(_Obediently the two join_ FENTON _at windows._) Butler!

BUTLER. Aye! We have Hugh Talbot's orders.

(_Points to powder-keg._)

JOHN TALBOT. Are you meaning--

BUTLER. It's not I will be failing him now!

FENTON (_at window_). God! They waste no time.

JOHN TALBOT. Already--they have dared--

FENTON. Here--this moment--under our very eyes!

DRISCOLL. Christ Jesus!

(_Goes back from the window, with his arm across his eyes, and
falls on his knees in headlong prayer._)

JOHN TALBOT. Kit! Kit Newcombe!

(_Motions him to window._)

NEWCOMBE. I cannot! I--

JOHN TALBOT. Look forth! Look! And remember--when you meet
them--remember! (NEWCOMBE _stands swaying, clutching at the
grating of the window, as he looks forth._) Lads! (_Motions to_
BUTLER _and_ FENTON _to carry the powder to the stairhead._) The time
is short. His orders!

(DRISCOLL _raises his head and gazes fixedly toward the centre of
the room._)

FENTON. Yonder, at the stairhead.


(FENTON _and_ BUTLER _carry the keg to the door._)

NEWCOMBE. Not that! Not that death! No! No!

JOHN TALBOT. Be silent! And look yonder! Driscoll! Fetch the
light! Newcombe! Come! You have your places, all.

DRISCOLL. But, Captain! The sixth man--where will the sixth man
be standing?

(_There is a blank silence, in which the men look questioningly at_
DRISCOLL'S _rapt face and at one another._)


FENTON. What sixth?

DRISCOLL. The blind eyes of ye! Yonder!

(_Comes to the salute, even as, a few moments before, he has
saluted_ HUGH TALBOT, _living._

NEWCOMBE _gives a smothered cry, as one who half sees, and takes
courage._ FENTON _dazedly starts to salute. Outside a bugle
sounds, and a voice, almost at the door, is heard to speak._)

VOICE OUTSIDE. For the last time: will you surrender you?

JOHN TALBOT (_in a loud and confident voice_). No! Not while our
commander stands with us!

VOICE OUTSIDE. And who might your commander be?

JOHN TALBOT. Hugh Talbot, the Captain of the Gate! The light
here, Phelimy.

(JOHN TALBOT _bends to set the candle to the powder that shall
destroy Cashala Gatehouse, and all within it. His mates are
gathered round him, with steady, bright faces, for in the little
space left vacant in their midst they know in that minute that_
HUGH TALBOT _stands._)



Percy MacKaye

SCENE: A woodshed, in the ell of a farm-house.

The shed is open on both sides, front and back, the apertures
being slightly arched at the top. (_In bad weather, these
presumably may be closed by big double doors, which stand open
now--swung back outward beyond sight._) Thus the nearer opening is
the proscenium arch of the scene, under which the spectator looks
through the shed to the background--a grassy yard, a road with
great trunks of soaring elms, and the glimpse of a green
hillside. The ceiling runs up into a gable with large beams.

On the right, at back, a door opens into the shed from the house
kitchen. Opposite it, a door leads from the shed into the barn.
In the foreground, against the right wall, is a work-bench. On
this are tools, a long, narrow, wooden box, and a small
oil-stove, with steaming kettle upon it.

Against the left wall, what remains of the year's wood supply is
stacked, the uneven ridges sloping to a jumble of stovewood and
kindlings mixed with small chips of the floor, which is piled
deep with mounds of crumbling bark, chips and wood-dust.

Not far from this mounded pile, at right centre of the scene,
stands a wooden armchair, in which LINK TADBOURNE, in his
shirt-sleeves, sits drowsing. Silhouetted by the sunlight beyond,
his sharp-drawn profile is that of an old man, with white hair
cropped close, and gray moustache of a faded black hue at the
outer edges. Between his knees is a stout thong of wood, whittled
round by the drawshave which his sleeping hand still holds in his
lap. Against the side of his chair rests a thick wooden yoke and
collar. Near him is a chopping-block.

In the woodshed there is no sound or motion except the hum and
floating steam from the tea-kettle. Presently the old man murmurs
in his sleep, clenching his hand. Slowly the hand relaxes again.

From the door, right, comes POLLY--a sweet-faced girl of
seventeen, quietly mature for her age. She is dressed simply. In
one hand she carries a man's wide-brimmed felt hat, over the
other arm a blue coat. These she brings toward LINK. Seeing him
asleep, she begins to tiptoe, lays the coat and hat on the
chopping-block, goes to the bench, and trims the wick of the
oil-stove, under the kettle. Then she returns and stands near
LINK, surveying the shed.

On closer scrutiny, the jumbled woodpile has evidently a certain
order in its chaos; some of the splittings have been piled in
irregular ridges; in places, the deep layer of wood-dust and
chips has been scooped, and the little mounds slope and rise like
miniature valleys and hills. [2]

Taking up a hoe, POLLY--with careful steps--moves among the
hollows, placing and arranging sticks of kindling, scraping and
smoothing the little mounds with the hoe. As she does so, from
far away, a bugle sounds.

[Footnote 1: Copyright, 1912, by Percy Mackaye. All rights

[Footnote 2: A suggestion for the appropriate arrangement of
these mounds may be found in the map of the battle-field annexed
to the volume by Captain R.K. Beecham, entitled _Gettysburg_
(A.C. McClurg, 1911).]

            (_snapping his eyes wide open, sits up_)

  Hello! Cat-nappin' was I, Polly?

  A kitten-nap, I guess.

                          (_Laying the hoe down, she approaches_)

                      The yoke done?

      (_giving a final whittle to the yoke-collar thong_)

  When he's ben steamed a spell, and bended snug,
  I guess this feller'll sarve t' say "Gee" to--
      (_Lifting the other yoke-collar from beside his chair, he
        holds the whittled thong next to it, comparing the two
        with expert eye_)
  and "Haw" to him. Beech every time, Sir; beech
  or walnut. Hang me if I'd shake a whip
  at birch, for ox-yokes.--Polly, are ye thar?

  Yes, Uncle Link.

                  What's that I used to sing ye?

                "Polly, put the kittle on,
                Polly, put the kittle on,
                Polly, put the kittle on--"


  We'll give this feller a dose of ox-yoke tea!

  The kettle's boilin'.

                 Wall, then, steep him good.

  (POLLY _takes from_ LINK _the collar-thong, carries it to the
    work-bench, shoves it into the narrow end of the box, which she
    then closes tight and connects--by a piece of hose--to the spout
    of the kettle. At the farther end of the box, steam then emerges
    through a small hole._)

  You're feelin' smart to-day.

                             Smart!--Wall, if I
  could git a hull man to swap legs with me,
  mebbe I'd arn my keep. But this here settin'
  dead an' alive, without no legs, day in,
  day out, don't make an old hoss wuth his oats.


  I guess you'll soon be walkin' round.

                                      Not if
  that doctor feller has his say: He says
  I can't never go agin this side o' Jordan;
  and looks like he's 'bout right.--Nine months to-morrer,
  Polly, gal, sence I had that stroke.

            (_pointing to the ox-yoke_)

                                  You're fitter
  sittin' than most folks standin'.


                                  Oh, they can't
  keep my two hands from makin' ox-yokes. That's
  my second natur' sence I was a boy.

      (_Again in the distance a bugle sounds._ LINK _starts._)

  What's that?

                  Why, that's the army veterans
  down to the graveyard. This is Decoration
  mornin': you ain't forgot?

                          So't is, so't is.
  Roger, your young man--ha! (_chuckling_) he come and axed me
  was I a-goin' to the cemetery.
  "Me? Don't I look it?" says I. Ha! "Don't I look it?"

  He meant--to decorate the graves.

                                          O' course;
  but I must take my little laugh. I told him
  I guessed I wa'n't persent'ble anyhow,
  my mustache and my boots wa'n't blacked this mornin'.
  I don't jest like t' talk about my legs.--
  Be you a-goin' to take your young school folks,

          Dear no! I told my boys and girls
  to march up this way with the band. I said
  I'd be a-stayin' home and learnin' how
  to keep school in the woodpile here with you.

            (_looking up at her proudly_)

  Schoolma'am at seventeen! Some smart, I tell ye!

                  (_caressing him_)

  Schoolmaster, you, past seventy; that's smarter!
  I tell 'em I learn from you, so's I can teach
  my young folks what the study-books leave out.

  Sure ye don't want to jine the celebratin'?

  No, _sir!_ We're goin' to celebrate right here,
  and you're to teach me to keep school some more.

       (_She holds ready for him the blue coat and hat._)

                    (_looking up_)

  What's thar?

              Your teachin' rig.

                            (_She helps him on with it._)

                                    The old blue coat!--
  My, but I'd like to see the boys--(_gazing at the hat_) the Grand
  Old Army Boys! (_dreamily_) Yes, we was boys: jest boys!
  Polly, you tell your young folks, when they study
  the books, that we was nothin' else but boys
  jest fallin' in love, with best gals left t' home--
  the same as you; and when the shot was singin',
  we pulled their picters out, and prayed to them
  'most morn'n the Almighty.

      (LINK _looks up suddenly--a strange light in his face.
        Again, to a far strain of music, the bugle sounds._)

                                Thar she blows

              They're marchin' to the graves with flowers.

  My Godfrey!'t ain't so much thinkin' o' flowers
  and the young folks, their faces, and the blue
  line of old fellers marchin'--it's the music!
  that old brass voice a-callin'! Seems as though,
  legs or no legs, I'd have to up and foller
  to God-knows-whar, and holler--holler back
  to guns roarin' in the dark. No; durn it, no!
  I jest can't stan' the music.

       (_goes to the work-bench, where the box is steaming_)

                                Uncle Link,
  you want that I should steam this longer?


  A kittleful, a kittleful.

                (_coming over to him_)

                        Now, then,
  I'm ready for school.--I hope I've drawed the map
  all right.

        Map? Oh, the map!

      (_Surveying the woodpile reminiscently, he nods._)

                                      Yes, thar she be:
  old Gettysburg!

                I know the places--most.

  So, _do_ ye? Good, now: whar's your marker?

                 (_taking up the hoe_)


  Willoughby Run: whar's that?

    (_pointing with the hoe toward the left of the woodpile_)

                                      That's farthest over
  next the barn door.

                      My, how we fit the Johnnies
  thar, the fust mornin'! Jest behind them willers,
  acrost the Run, that's whar we captur'd Archer.
  My, my!

          Over there--that's Seminary Ridge.

    (_She points to different heights and depressions, as_ LINK
      _nods his approval._)

  Peach Orchard, Devil's Den, Round Top, the Wheatfield--

  Lord, Lord, the Wheatfield!


                                  Cemetery Hill,
  Little Round Top, Death Valley, and this here
  is Cemetery Ridge.

          (_pointing to the little flag_)

                            And colors flyin'!
  We _kep_ 'em flyin' thar, too, all three days,
  From start to finish.

                      Have I learned 'em right?

  _A_ number One, chick! Wait a mite: Culp's Hill:
  I don't jest spy Culp's Hill.

                                There wa'n't enough
  kindlin's to spare for that. It ought to lay
  east there, towards the kitchen.

                                      Let it go!
  That's whar us Yanks left our back door ajar
  and Johnson stuck his foot in: kep' it thar,
  too, till he got it squoze off by old Slocum.
  Let Culp's Hill lay for now.--Lend me your marker.
    (POLLY _hands him the hoe. From his chair, he reaches
      with it and digs in the chips._)
  Death Valley needs some scoopin' deeper. So:
  smooth off them chips.

                      (POLLY _does so with her foot._)

                    You better guess't was deep
  As hell, that second day, come sundown.--Here,
                     (_He hands back the hoe to her._)
  flat down the Wheatfield yonder.

                                    (POLLY _does so._)

                                      God a'mighty!
  That Wheatfield: wall, we flatted it down flatter
  than any pancake what you ever cooked,
  Polly; and't wa'n't no maple syrup neither
  was runnin', slipp'ry hot and slimy black,
  all over it, that nightfall.

                          Here's the road
  to Emmetsburg.

                No,'t 'ain't: this here's the pike
  to Taneytown, where Sykes's boys come sweatin',
  after an all-night march, jest in the nick
  to save our second day. The Emmetsburg
  road's thar.--Whar was I, 'fore I fell cat-nappin'?

  At sunset, July second, sixty-three.

              (_nodding, reminiscent_)

  The Bloody Sundown! God, that crazy sun:
  she set a dozen times that afternoon,
  red-yeller as a punkin jack-o'-lantern,
  rairin' and pitchin' through the roarin' smoke
  till she clean busted, like the other bombs,
  behind the hills.

               My! Wa'n't you never scart
  and wished you'd stayed t' home?

                               Scart? Wall, I wonder!
  Chick, look a-thar: them little stripes and stars.
  I heerd a feller onct, down to the store,--
  a dressy mister, span-new from the city--
  layin' the law down: "All this stars and stripes,"
  says he, "and red and white and blue is rubbish,
  mere sentimental rot, spread-eagleism!"
  "I wan't' know!" says I. "In sixty-three,
  I knowed a lad, named Link. Onct, after sundown
  I met him stumblin'--with two dead men's muskets
  for crutches--towards a bucket, full of ink---
  water, they called it. When he'd drunk a spell,
  he tuk the rest to wash his bullet-holes.---
  Wall, sir, he had a piece o' splintered stick,
  with red and white and blue, tore'most t' tatters,
  a-danglin' from it. 'Be you color sergeant?'
  says I. 'Not me,' says Link; 'the sergeant's dead;
  but when he fell, he handed me this bit
  o' rubbish--red and white and blue.' And Link
  he laughed. 'What be you laughin' for?' says I.
  'Oh, nothin'. Ain't it lovely, though!'" says Link.

  What did the span-new mister say to that?

  I didn't stop to listen. Them as never
  heerd dead men callin' for the colors don't
  guess what they be.

               (_Sitting up and blinking hard_)

                      But this ain't keepin' school!


  I guess I'm learnin' somethin', Uncle Link.

  The second day, 'fore sunset.

                     (_He takes the hoe and points with it._)

                                  Yon's the Wheatfield.
  Behind it thar lies Longstreet with his rebels.
  Here be the Yanks, and Cemetery Ridge
  behind 'em. Hancock--he's our general--
  he's got to hold the Ridge, till reinforcements
  from Taneytown. But lose the Wheatfield, lose
  the Ridge, and lose the Ridge--lose God-and-all!--
  Lee, the old fox, he'd nab up Washington,
  Abe Lincoln, and the White House in one bite!--
  So the Union, Polly--me and you and Roger,
  your Uncle Link, and Uncle Sam--is all
  thar--growin' in that Wheatfield.

                (_smiling proudly_)

                                         And they're growin'

      Not the wheat, though. Over them stone walls,
  thar comes the Johnnies, thick as grasshoppers:
  gray legs a-jumpin' through the tall wheat-tops,
  and now thar ain't no tops, thar ain't no wheat,
  thar ain't no lookin': jest blind feelin' round
  in the black mud, and trampin' on boys' faces,
  and grapplin' with hell-devils, and stink o' smoke,
  and stingin' smother, and--up thar through the dark--
  that crazy punkin sun, like an old moon
  lopsided, crackin' her red shell with thunder!

      (_In the distance, a bugle sounds, and the low martial
        music of a brass band begins. Again_ LINK'S _face
        twitches, and he pauses, listening. From this moment
        on, the sound and emotion of the brass music, slowly
        growing louder, permeates the scene._)

  Oh! What was God a-thinkin' of, t' allow
  the created world to act that awful?

  I wonder!--Cast your eye along this hoe:

    (_He stirs the chips and wood-dirt round with the hoe-iron._)

  Thar in that poked up mess o' dirt, you see
  yon weeny chip of ox-yoke?--That's the boy
  I spoke on: Link, Link Tadbourne: "Chipmunk Link,"
  they call him, 'cause his legs is spry's a squirrel's.--
  Wall, mebbe some good angel, with bright eyes
  like yourn, stood lookin' down on him that day,
  keepin' the Devil's hoe from crackin' him.

                    (_Patting her hand, which rests on his hoe_)

  If so, I reckon, Polly, it was you.
  But mebbe jest Old Nick, as he sat hoein'
  them hills, and haulin' in the little heaps
  o' squirmin' critters, kind o' reco'nized
  Link as his livin' image, and so kep' him
  to put in an airthly hell, whar thar ain't no legs,
  and worn-out devils sit froze in high-backed chairs,
  list'nin' to bugles--bugles--bugles, callin'.

      (LINK clutches the sides of his chair, staring. The music
        draws nearer. POLLY touches him soothingly.)

  Don't, dear; they'll soon quit playin'. Never mind'em.

            (_relaxing under her touch_)

  No, never mind; that's right. It's jest that onct--
  onct we was boys, onct we was boys--with legs.
  But never mind. An old boy ain't a bugle.
  _Onct_, though, he was: and all God's life a-snortin'
  outn his nostrils, and Hell's mischief laughin'
  outn his eyes, and all the mornin' winds
  a-blowin' _Glory Hallelujahs_, like
  brass music, from his mouth.--But never mind!
  'T ain't nothin': boys in blue ain't bugles now.
  Old brass gits rusty, and old underpinnin'
  gits rotten, and trapped chipmunks lose their legs.

                                      (_With smouldering fire_)

  But jest the same--

      (_His face convulses and he cries out, terribly--straining
        in his chair to rise._)

                            --for holy God, that band!
  Why don't they stop that band!


                                    I'll run and tell them.
  Sit quiet, dear. I'll be right back.

    (_Glancing back anxiously,_ POLLY _disappears outside. The
      approaching band begins to play "John Brown's Body."_
      LINK _sits motionless, gripping his chair._)

                                      _Set quiet!_
  Dead folks don't set, and livin' folks kin stand,
  and Link--he kin set quiet.--God a'mighty,
  how kin he set, and them a-marchin' thar
  with old John Brown? Lord God, you ain't forgot
  the boys, have ye? the boys, how they come marchin'
  home to ye, live and dead, behind old Brown,
  a-singin' Glory to ye! Jest look down:
  thar's Gettysburg, thar's Cemetery Ridge:
  don't say ye disremember them! And thar's
  the colors. Look, he's picked 'em up--the sergeant's
  blood splotched 'em some--but thar they be, still flyin'!
  Link done that: Link--the spry boy, what they call
  Chipmunk: you ain't forgot his double-step,
  have ye?

                        (_Again he cries out, beseechingly_)

                My God, why do You keep on marchin'
  and leave him settin' here?
    (_To the music outside, the voices of children begin to sing
      the words of "John Brown's Body." At the sound,_
      LINK'S _face becomes transformed with emotion, his
      body shakes, and his shoulders heave and straighten._)

    (_Wresting himself mightily, he rises from his chair, and stands._)

  Them are the boys that marched to Kingdom-Come
  ahead of us, but we keep fallin' in line.
  Them voices--Lord, I guess you've brought along
  Your Sunday choir of young angel folks
  to help the boys out.

                      (_Following the music with swaying arms_)

                            Glory!--Never mind
  me singin': you kin drown me out. But I'm
  goin' t' jine in, or bust!

    (_Joining with the children's voices, he moves unconsciously
      along the edge of the woodpile. With stiff steps--his
      one hand leaning on the hoe, his other reached as
      to unseen hands, that draw him--he totters toward
      the sunlight and the green lawn, at back. As he does so,
      his thin, cracked voice takes up the battle-hymn where
      the children's are singing it._)

                       "--a-mould'rin' in the grave,
  John Brown's body lies a-mould'rin' in the grave.
  John Brown's body lies a-mould'rin' in the grave,
    But his soul goes--"

    (_Suddenly he stops, aware that he is walking, and cries
      aloud, astounded_)
                            Lord, Lord, my legs!
  Whar did Ye git my legs?

      (_Shaking with delight, he drops his hoe, seizes up the
        little flag from the woodpile, and waves it joyously._)

                              I'm comin', boys!
  Link's loose agin: Chipmunk has sprung his trap.

    (_With tottering gait, he climbs the little mound in the

  Now, boys, three cheers for Cemetery Ridge!
  Jine in, jine in!

                                          (_Swinging the flag_)


    (_Outside, the music grows louder, and the voices of old
      men and children sing martially to the brass music._

    _With his final cheer_, LINK _stumbles down from the
      mound, brandishes in one hand his hat, in the other
      the little flag, and stumps off toward the approaching
      procession into the sunlight, joining his old cracked
      voice, jubilant, with the singers:_)

                       "--ry hallelujah,
                Glory, glory hallelujah,
                  His truth is marchin" on!"



Harold Brighouse

[Footnote 1: Included by special permission of the author and of
the publishers, Messrs. Gowans and Gray, of Glasgow.]


SAKAH ORMEHOD, An old woman
EMMA BRIERLEY, A young woman
SAM HORROCKS, A young man

THE SCENE _represents the interior of a cottage in a Lancashire
village. Through the window at the back the gray row of cottages
opposite is just visible. The outside door is next to the window.
Door left. As regards furniture the room is very bare. The
suggestion is not of an empty room, but a stripped room. For
example, there are several square patches where the distemper of
the walls is of a darker shade than the rest, indicating the
places once occupied by pictures. There is an uncovered deal
the left wall is a dresser and a plate-rack above it containing a
few pots. The dresser has also one or two utensils upon it. A
blackened kettle rests on the top of the cooking-range, but the
room contains only the barest necessities. The floor is
uncarpeted. There are no window curtains, but a yard of cheap
muslin is fastened across the window, not coming, however, high
enough to prevent a passer-by from looking in, should he wish to
do so. On the floor, near the fire, is a battered black tin
trunk, the lid of which is raised. On a peg behind the door left
is a black silk skirt and bodice and an old-fashioned beaded
bonnet. The time is afternoon. As the curtain rises the room is
empty. Immediately, however, the door left opens and SARAH
ORMEROD, an old woman, enters, carrying clumsily in her arms a
couple of pink flannelette nightdresses, folded neatly. Her black
stuff dress is well worn, and her wedding-ring is her only
ornament. She wears elastic-sided boots, and her rather short
skirt shows a pair of gray worsted stockings. A small plaid shawl
covers her shoulders. SARAH crosses and puts the nightdresses on
the table, surveying the trunk ruefully. There is a knock at the
outside door and she looks up._

SARAH. Who's theer?

EMMA (_without_). It's me, Mrs. Ormerod, Emma Brierley.

SARAH. Eh, coom in, Emma, lass.

(_Enter_ EMMA BRIERLEY. _She is a young weaver, and, having just
left her work, she wears a dark skirt, a blouse of some
indeterminate blue-gray shade made of cotton, and a large shawl
over her head and shoulders in place of a jacket and hat. A
colored cotton apron covers her skirt below the waist, and the
short skirt displays stout stockings similar to Sarah's. She
wears clogs, and the clothes--except the shawl--are covered with
ends of cotton and cotton-wool fluff. Even her hair has not
escaped. A pair of scissors hangs by a cord from her waist._)

SARAH. Tha's kindly welcoom. It's good o' thee to think o'
coomin' to see an ould woman like me.

EMMA (_by door_). Nought o' th' sort, Mrs. Ormerod. Th' mill's just
loosed and A thowt A'd step in as A were passin' and see 'ow tha
was feeling like.

SARAH (_crossing to box_). Oh, nicely, nicely, thankee. It's
only my 'ands as is gone paralytic, tha knaws, an' a weaver's no
manner o' good to nobody without th' use o' 'er'ands. A'm all
reeght in masel'. That's worst of it.

EMMA. Well, while A'm 'ere, Mrs. Ormerod, is theer nought as A
can do for thee?

SARAH. A dunno as theer is, thankee, Emma.

EMMA (_taking her shawl off, looking round and hanging it on a
peg in the door_). Well, A knaws better. What wert doin' when
A coom in? Packin' yon box?

SARAH. Aye. Tha sees theer's a two three things as A canna bear
thowt o' parting from. A don't reeghtly knaw if they'll let me
tak' 'em into workus wi' me, but A canna have 'em sold wi' rest
of stuff.

EMMA (_crosses below SARAH to box, going on her knees_). Let me
help yo'.

SARAH. Tha's a good lass, Emma. A'd tak' it kindly of thee.

EMMA. They'd do wi' packin' a bit closer. A dunno as they'd carry
safe that road.

SARAH. A know. It's my 'ands, tha sees, as mak's it difficult for

(_Sits on chair._)

EMMA. Aye. A'll soon settle 'em a bit tighter.

(_Lifts all out, buries her arms in the box, and rearranges its

SARAH. But what's 'appened to thy looms, lass? They'll not weave
by 'emselves while thee's 'ere, tha knows.

EMMA (_looking round_). Eh, looms is all reeght. Factory's stopped.
It's Saturday afternoon.

SARAH. So 't is. A'd clean forgot. A do forget time o' th' week
sittin' 'ere day arter day wi' nought to do.

EMMA. So that's all reeght. Tha's no need to worry about me.
Tha's got trouble enough of thy own.

(_Resuming at the box_)

SARAH. Aye, th' art reeght theer, lass. Theer's none on us likes
to think o' goin' to workus when we're ould.

EMMA. 'Appen it'll be all reeght after all. Parson's coomin' to
see thee.

SARAH. Aye, A knaw 'e is. A dunno, but A'm in 'opes 'e'll do
summat for me. Tha can't never tell what them folks can do.

EMMA (_kneeling up_). Tha keep thy pecker oop, Mrs. Ormerod. That's
what my moother says to me when A tould 'er A were coomin' in to
thee. Keep 'er pecker oop, she says. It's not as if she'd been
lazy or a wastrel, she says; Sal Ormerod's bin a 'ard worker in
'er day, she says. It's not as if it were thy fault. Tha can't
'elp tha 'ands goin' paralytic.

(_She continues rummaging in the trunk while speaking._)

SARAH. Naw. It's not my fault. God knaws A'm game enough for
work, ould as A am. A allays knawed as A'd 'ave to work for my
living all th' days o' my life. A never was a savin' sort.

EMMA. Theer's nowt against thee for that. Theer's soom as can be
careful o' theer brass an' soom as can't. It's not a virtue, it's
a gift. That's what my moother allays says.

(_Resumes packing._)

SARAH. She's reeght an' all. We never 'ad the gift o' savin', my
man and me. An' when Tom Ormerod took an' died, the club money as
A drew all went on 'is funeral an' 'is gravestone. A warn't goin'
to 'ave it said as 'e warn't buried proper.

EMMA. It were a beautiful funeral, Mrs. Ormerod.


EMMA. A will say that, beautiful it were. A never seen a better,
an' A goes to all as A can. (_Rises._) A dotes on buryin's. Are
these the next?

(_Crosses before table for nightdresses, takes the nightdresses
and resumes packing._)


(_Emma puts them in and rests on her knees listening to Sarah's
next speech._)

SARAH (_pause_). A've been a 'ouseproud woman all my life, Emma,
an' A've took pride in 'avin' my bits o' sticks as good as
another's. Even th' manager's missus oop to factory 'ouse theer,
she never 'ad a better show o' furniture nor me, though A says it
as shouldn't. An' it tak's brass to keep a decent 'ouse over your
yead. An' we allays 'ad our full week's 'ollydayin' at Blackpool
reg'lar at Wakes time. Us didn't 'ave no childer o' our own to
spend it on, an' us spent it on ourselves. A allays 'ad a plenty
o' good food in th' 'ouse an' never stinted nobody, an' Tom 'e
liked 'is beer an' 'is baccy. 'E were a pigeon-fancier, too, in
'is day, were my Tom, an' pigeon-fancying runs away wi' a mint o'
money. No. Soom'ow theer never was no brass to put in th' bank.
We was allays spent oop coom wages neeght.

EMMA. A knaw, Mrs. Ormerod. May be A'm young, but A knaw 'ow 't
is. We works cruel 'ard in th' mill, an' when us plays, us plays
as 'ard too (_pause_), an' small blame to us either. It's our
_own_ we're spendin'.

SARAH. Aye. It's a 'ard life, the factory 'and's. A can mind me
many an' many's the time when th' warnin' bell went on th'
factory lodge at ha'f past five of a winter's mornin' as A've
craved for another ha'f hour in my bed, but Tom 'e got me oop an'
we was never after six passin' through factory gates all th'
years we were wed. There's not many as can say they were never
late. "Work or clem," that were what Tom allays tould me th' ould
bell were sayin'. An' 'e were reeght, Emma. "Work or clem" is
God's truth. (EMMA'S _head in box._) An' now th' time's coom when A
can't work no more. But Parson's a good man, 'e'll mak' it all
reeght. (EMMA'S _head appears._) Eh, it were good o' thee to coom
in, lass. A bit o' coompany do mak' a world o' difference. A'm
twice as cheerful as A were.

EMMA. A'm glad to 'ear tha say so, Mrs. Ormerod. (_Rises from the
box._) Is theer owt else?

SARAH. A were thinkin' A'd like to tak' my black silk as A've
worn o' Sundays this many a year, but A canna think it's reeght
thing for workus.

EMMA. Oh, thee tak' it, Mrs. Ormerod.

SARAH. A'd dearly love to. Tha sees A'm noan in debt, nobbut what
chairs an table 'ull payfor, and A doan't like thowt o' leaving
owt as A'm greatly fond of.

EMMA. Yo doan't, Mrs. Ormerod. Thee tak' it. Wheer is it? A'll
put un in. Theer's lots o'room on top. A'll see un's noan

SARAH. It's hanging theer behind door. (EMMA _crosses back to
door, gets clothes._) A got un out to show Parson. A thowt A'd ask
un if it were proper to tak' it if A've to go. My best bonnet's
with it, an' all.

(EMMA _goes below table, takes the frock and bonnet, folds it on
the table, and packs it._)

EMMA. A'll put un in.

SARAH. A'm being a lot o' trouble to thee, lass.

EMMA. That's nowt; neighbors mun be neighborly.

(_Gets bonnet from table and packs it._)

SARAH (_after a pause, looking round_). Place doan't look much, an'
that's a fact. Th' furniture's bin goin' bit by bit, and theer
ain't much left to part wi' now.

EMMA. Never mind; it 'ull be all reeght now Parson's takken thee

SARAH. A'm hopin' so. A _am_ hopin' so. A never could abide
th' thowt o' th' workus--me as 'as bin an 'ard-workin' woman. A
couldn't fancy sleepin' in a strange bed wi' strange folk round
me, an' when th' Matron said, "Do that," A'd 'ave to do it, an'
when she said, "Go theer," A'd 'ave to a' gone wheer she tould
me--me as 'as allays 'eld my yead 'igh an' gone the way A pleased
masel'. Eh, it's a terrible thowt, the workus.

EMMA (_rising_). Now tha's sure that's all?

SARAH (_after a pause, considers_). Eh, if A havna forgot my
neeghtcaps. (_Rises, moves centre and stops._) A suppose they'll
let me wear un in yonder. A doan't reeghtly think as A'd get my
rest proper wi'out my neeghtcaps.

EMMA. Oh, they'll let thee wear un all reeght.

SARAH (_as she goes_). A'll go an' get un. (_Exit right, returning
presently with the white nightcaps._) That's all now.

(_Gives them to_ EMMA _who meets her at centre._)

EMMA (_putting them in_). Yo' never 'ad no childer, did yo', Mrs.

SARAH. No, Emma, no--maybe that's as broad as's long. (_Sits above
fire._) Yo' never knaw 'ow they go. Soom on 'em turn again yo'
when they're growed, or they get wed themselves an' forget all as
yo' 've done for 'em, like a many A could name, and they're
allays a worrit to yo' when they're young.

EMMA. A'm gettin' wed masel' soon, Mrs. Ormerod.

SARAH. Are yo', now, Emma? Well, tha art not one o' them
graceless good-for-nowts. Tha'll never forget thy moother, A
knaw, nor what she's done for thee. Who's tha keepin' coompany

EMMA. It's Joe Hindle as goes wi' me, Mrs. Ormerod.

SARAH. 'Indle, 'Indle? What, not son to Robert 'Indle, 'im as
used to be overlooker in th' factory till 'e went to foreign
parts to learn them Roossians 'ow to weave?

EMMA. Aye, that's 'im.

SARAH. Well, A dunno aught about th' lad. 'Is faither were a fine
man. A minds 'im well. But A'll tell thee this, Emma, an' A'll
tell it thee to thy faice, 'e's doin' well for 'isself, is young
Joe 'Indle.

EMMA. Thankee, Mrs. Ormerod.

SARAH. Gettin' wed! Think o' that. Why, it seems as 't were only
t'other day as tha was runnin' about in short frocks, an' now
tha's growed up and gettin' thasel' wed! Time do run on. Sithee,
Emma, tha's a good lass, A've gotten an ould teapot in yonder
(_indicating her bedroom_) as my moother give me when A was wed. A
weren't for packing it in box because o' risk o' breaking it. A
were going to carry it in my 'and. A'd a mind to keep it till A
died, but A reckon A'll 'ave no use for it in workus.

EMMA. Tha's not gone theer yet.

SARAH. Never mind that. (_Slowly rises._) A'm going to give it
thee, lass, for a weddin' gift. Tha'll tak' care of it, A knaw,
and when thy eye catches it, 'appen tha'll spare me a thowt.

EMMA. Oh, no, Mrs. Ormerod, A couldn't think o' takkin' it.

SARAH. Art too proud to tak' a gift from me?

EMMA. No. Tha knaws A'm not.

SARAH. Then hold thy hush. A'll be back in a minute. Happen A'd
best tidy masel' up too against Parson cooms.

EMMA. Can A help thee, Mrs. Ormerod?

SARAH. No, lass, no. A can do a bit for masel'. My 'ands isn't
that bad; A canna weave wi' 'em, but A can do all as A need do.

EMMA. Well, A'll do box up.

(_Crosses to table right and gets cord._)


EMMA. All reeght.

(_Exit_ SARAH. _A man's face appears outside at the window. He
surveys the room, and then the face vanishes as he knocks at the

Who's theer?

SAM (_without_). It's me, Sam Horrocks. (_EMMA crosses left and
opens door._) May A coom in?

EMMA. What dost want?

SAM (_on the doorstep_). A want a word wi' thee, Emma Brierley. A
followed thee oop from factory and A've bin waitin' out theer
till A'm tired o' waitin'.

EMMA. Well, tha'd better coom in. A 'aven't time to talk wi' thee
at door.

(EMMA _lets him in, closes door, and, leaving him standing in the
middle of the room, resumes work on her knees at the box._ SAM
HORROCKS _is a hulking young man of a rather vacant expression. He
is dressed in mechanic's blue dungarees. His face is oily and his
clothes stained. He wears boots, not clogs. He mechanically takes
a ball of oily black cotton-waste from his right pocket when in
conversational difficulties and wipes his hands upon it. He has a
red muffler round his neck without collar, and his shock affair
hair is surmounted by a greasy black cap, which covers perhaps
one tenth of it._)

SAM (_after watching_ EMMA's _back for a moment_). Wheer's Mrs.

EMMA (_without looking up_). What's that to do wi' thee?

SAM (_apologetically_). A were only askin'. Tha needn't be short
wi' a chap.

EMMA. She's in scullery washin' 'er, if tha wants to knaw.

SAM. Oh!

EMMA (_looking at him over her shoulder after a slight pause_).
Doan't tha tak' thy cap off in 'ouse, Sam Horrocks?

SAM. Naw.

EMMA. Well, tha can tak' it off in this 'ouse or get t' t'other
side o' door.

SAM. (_Takes off his cap and stuffs it in his left pocket after
trying his right and finding the ball of waste in it._) Yes, Emma.

(EMMA _resumes work with her back towards him and waits for him to
speak. But he is not ready yet._)

EMMA. Well, what dost want?

SAM. Nought.--Eh, but tha art a gradely wench.

EMMA. What's that to do wi' thee?

SAM. Nought.

EMMA. Then just tha mind thy own business, an' doan't pass
compliments behind folks' backs.

SAM. A didn't mean no 'arm.

EMMA. Well?

SAM. It's a fine day, isn't it? For th' time o' th' year?

EMMA. Aye.

SAM. A very fine day.

EMMA. Aye.

SAM (_desperately_). It's a damned fine day.

EMMA. Aye.

SAM (_after a moment_). Dost know my 'ouse, Emma?

EMMA. Aye.

SAM. Wert ever in it?

EMMA. Not sin' tha moother died.

SAM. Naw. A suppose not. Not sin' ma moother died. She were a
fine woman, ma moother, for all she were bed-ridden.

EMMA. She were better than 'er son, though that's not saying much

SAM. Naw, but tha does mind ma 'ouse, Emma, as it were when she
were alive?

EMMA. Aye.

SAM. A 've done a bit at it sin' them days. Got a new quilt on
bed from Co-op. Red un, it is, wi' blue stripes down 'er.

EMMA. Aye.

SAM. Well, Emma?

EMMA (_over her shoulder_). Well, what? What's thy 'ouse an' thy
quilt to do wi' me?

SAM. Oh, nought.--Tha doesn't 'elp a feller much, neither.

EMMA. (_Rises and faces him. SAM is behind corner table and backs
a little before her._) What's tha gettin' at, Sam Horrocks? Tha's
got a tongue in thy faice, hasn't tha?

SAM. A suppose so. A doan't use it much though.

EMMA. No. Tha's not much better than a tongue-tied idiot, Sam
Horrocks, allays mooning about in th' engine-house in daytime an'
sulkin' at 'ome neeghttime.

SAM. Aye, A'm lonely sin' ma moother died. She did 'ave a way wi'
'er, ma moother. Th' 'ould plaice 'as not bin t' same to me sin'
she went. Daytime, tha knaws, A'm all reeght. Tha sees, them
engines, them an' me's pals. They talks to me an' A understands
their ways. A doan't some'ow seem to understand th' ways o' folks
like as A does th' ways o' them engines.

EMMA. Tha doesn't try. T' other lads goes rattin' or
dog-feeghtin' on a Sunday or to a football match of a Saturday
afternoon. Tha stays moonin' about th' 'ouse. Tha's not likely to
understand folks. Tha's not sociable.

SAM. Naw. That's reeght enough. A nobbut get laughed at when A
tries to be sociable an' stand my corner down at th' pub wi' th'
rest o' th' lads. It's no use ma tryin' to soop ale; A can't
carry th' drink like t' others. A knaws A've ways o' ma own.

EMMA. Tha has that.

SAM. A'm terrible lonesome, Emma. That theer 'ouse o' mine, it do
want a wench about th' plaice. Th' engines is all reeght for
days, but th' neeghts is that lonesome-like tha wouldn't believe.

EMMA. Tha's only thasel' to blame. It's nought to do wi' me,

SAM. Naw? A'd--A'd 'oped as 'ow it might 'ave, Emma.

EMMA (_approaching threateningly_). Sam Horrocks, if tha doan't
tell me proper what tha means A 'll give tha such a slap in th'

SAM (_backing before her_). Tha does fluster a feller, Emma. Just
like ma moother.

EMMA. A wish A 'ad bin. A'd 'ave knocked some sense into thy
silly yead.

SAM (_suddenly and clumsily kneels above chair left of table_).
Wilt tha 'ave me, Emma? A mak' good money in th'engine-house.

EMMA. Get oop, tha great fool. If tha didn't keep thasel' so
close wi' tha moonin' about in th' engine-'ouse an' never
speakin' a word to nobody, tha'd knaw A were keepin' coompany wi'
Joe Hindle.

SAM (_scrambling up_). Is that a fact, Emma?

EMMA. Of course it's a fact. Banns 'ull be oop come Sunday
fortneeght. We've not 'idden it neither. It's just like the great
blind idiot that tha art not to 'a' seen it long enough sin'.

SAM. A wer'n't aware. By gum, A 'ad so 'oped as tha'd 'ave me,

EMMA (_a little more softly_). A'm sorry if A've 'urt thee, Sam.

SAM. Aye. It were ma fault. Eh, well, A think mebbe A'd best be

EMMA (_lifts box to left_). Aye. Parson's coomin' to see Mrs.
Ormerod in a minute.

SAM (_with pride_). A knaw all about that, anyhow.

EMMA. She'm in a bad way. A dunno masel' as Parson can do much
for 'er.

SAM. It's 'ard lines on an ould un. Well, yo' 'll not want
me'ere. A 'll be movin' on. (_Getting his cap out_) No offense,
Emma, A 'ope. A'd 'ave asked thee first if A'd knawn as 'e were
after thee. A've bin tryin' for long enough.

EMMA. No. Theer's no offense, Sam. Tha's a good lad if tha art a
fool, an' mebbe tha's not to blame for that. Good-bye.

SAM. Good-bye, Emma. An'--An' A 'ope 'e'll mak' thee 'appy. A'd
dearly like to coom to th' weddin' an' shake 'is 'and.

(MRS. ORMEROD _heard off right._)

EMMA. A'll see tha's asked. Theer's Mrs. Ormerod stirrin'. Tha'd
best be gettin'.

SAM. All reeght. Good-bye, Emma.

EMMA. Good-bye, Sam.

(_Exit_ SAM _left centre._ MRS. ORMEROD _comes from the inside door.
She has a small blue teapot in her hand._)

SARAH. Was anybody 'ere, Emma? A thowt A yeard someun talkin',
only my yearin' isn't what it used to be, an' A warn't sure.

EMMA. It were Sam Horrocks, Mrs. Ormerod.

SARAH. Yon lad of ould Sal Horrocks as died last year? 'Im as
isn't reeght in 'is yead?

EMMA. Aye. 'E's bin askin' me to wed 'im.

SARAH (_incensed_). In my 'ouse? Theer's imperence for thee, an'
tha promised to another lad, an' all. A'd 'ave set about 'im wi'
a stick, Emma.

EMMA. 'E didn't knaw about Joe. It made me feel cruel like to
'ave to tell 'im.

SARAH. 'E'll get ower it. Soom lass 'll tak' 'im.

EMMA. A suppose so.

SARAH (_coming down, putting the teapot in EMMA'S hands_). Well,
theer's teapot.

EMMA (_meets SARAH right centre, examining teapot_). It's
beautiful. Beautiful, it is, Mrs. Ormerod.

SARAH. Aye, it's a bit o' real china is that. Tha'll tak' care
on't, lass, won't thee?

EMMA. A will an' all.

SARAH. Aye. A knaw it's safe wi' thee. Mebbe safer than it would
be in workus. A can't think well on yon plaice. A goa cold all
ower at thowt of it.

(_A knock at the door._)

EMMA. That'll be Parson.

SARAH (_crosses left, smoothing her hair_). Goa an' look through
window first, an' see who 't is.

EMMA (_puts teapot on table; looking through window_). It is not
th' ould Parson. It's one o' them young curate chaps.

SARAH. Well, coom away from window an' sit thee down. It won't do
to seem too eager. Let un knock again if it's not th' ould

(EMMA _leaves the window and goes to right of table. The knock is

SARAH (_raising her voice_). Coom in so who tha art. Door's on

(_Enter the_ REV. FRANK ALLEYNE. _He is a young curate, a
Londoner and an Oxford man, by association, training, and taste
totally unfitted for a Lancashire curacy, in which he is,
unfortunately, no exception._)

ALLEYNE. Good afternoon, Mrs. Ormerod.

SARAH. Good day to thee.

ALLEYNE. I'm sorry to say Mr. Blundell has had to go to a
missionary meeting, but he asked me to come and see you in his

SARAH. Tha's welcoom, lad. Sit thee doon.

(EMMA _comes below table left. Dusts a chair, which doesn't need
it, with her apron._ ALLEYNE _raises a deprecatory hand._ SARAH'S
_familiarity, as it seems to him, offends him. He looks sourly at_
EMMA _and markedly ignores her._)

ALLEYNE. Thank you; no, I won't sit; I cannot stay long.

SARAH. Just as tha likes. It's all same to me.

(EMMA _stays by right of table._)

ALLEYNE. How is it with you, Mrs. Ormerod?

SARAH. It might be worse. A've lost th' use o' my 'ands, and
they're takin' me to workus, but A'm not dead yet, and that's
summat to be thankul for.

ALLEYNE. Oh, yes, yes, Mrs. Ormerod. The--er--message I am to
deliver is, I fear, not quite what Mr. Blundell led you to hope
for. His efforts on your behalf have--er--- unfortunately failed.
He finds himself obliged to give up all hope of aiding you to a
livelihood. In fact--er--I understand that the arrangements made
for your removal to the workhouse this afternoon must be carried
out. It seems there is no alternative. I am grieved to be the
bearer of bad tidings, but I am sure you will find a comfortable
home awaiting you, Mrs.--er--Ormerod.

SARAH. 'Appen A shall an' 'appen A shan't. Theer's no tellin' 'ow
you'll favor a thing till you've tried it.

ALLEYNE. You must resign yourself to the will of Providence. The
consolations of religion are always with us. Shall I pray with

SARAH. A never were much at prayin' when A were well off, an' A
doubt the Lord ud tak' it kind o' selfish o' me if A coom cryin'
to 'im now A'm 'urt.

ALLEYNE. He will understand. Can I do nothing for you?

SARAH. A dunno as tha can, thankin' thee all same.

ALLEYNE. I am privileged with Mr. Blundell's permission to bring
a little gift to you, Mrs. Ormerod. (_Feeling in his coattails
and bringing out a Testament._) Allow me to present you with this
Testament, and may it help you to bear your Cross with resignation.
(_He hands her the Testament._ SARAH _does not raise her hands,
and it drops on her lap._ ALLEYNE _takes it again and puts it on
the table._) Ah, yes, of course--your poor hands--I understand.

SARAH. Thankee kindly. Readin' don't coom easy to me, an' my eyes
aren't what they were, but A'll mak' most of it.

ALLEYNE. You will never read that in vain. And now, dear sister,
I must go. I will pray for strength for you. All will be well.
Good day.

SARAH. Good day to thee.

(_Exit_ ALLEYNE.)

EMMA. Tha doesn't look so pleased wi' tha gift, Mrs. Ormerod.

SARAH. It's not square thing of th' ould Parson, Emma. 'E should
'a' coom an' tould me 'isself. Looks like 'e were feart to do it.
A never could abide them curate lads. We doan't want no grand
Lunnon gentlemen down 'ere. 'E doan't understand us no more than
we understand 'im. 'E means all reeght, poor lad. Sithee, Emma,
A've bin a church-goin' woman all my days. A was browt oop to
church, an' many's th' bit o' brass they've 'ad out o' me in my
time. An' in th' end they send me a fine curate with a tuppenny
Testament. That's all th' good yo' get out o' they folks.

EMMA. We'm chapel to our 'ouse, an' 'e didn't forget to let me
see 'e knaw'd it, but A doan't say as it's ony different wi'
chapels, neither. They get what they can outer yo', but yo'
mustn't look for nothin' back, when th' pinch cooms. (_Clock
outside strikes three._) Sakes alive, theer's clock goin' three.
My dinner 'ull be nice an' cold.

SARAH. Eh, what's that, lass? Dost mean to tell me tha's bin
clemmin' all this time?

EMMA. A coom 'ere straight from factory.

SARAH. Then tha doesn't move till tha's 'ad summat to eat.

EMMA. My dinner's ready for me at whoam, Mrs. Ormerod.

SARAH. Then just look sharp an' get it, tha silly lass. Tha 's no
reeght to go wi'out thy baggin'.

EMMA (_putting her shawl on_). All reeght. A'm off.

(_Picks up teapot._)

SARAH. Tha's bin a world o' coomfort to me, Emma. It'll be 'arder
to bear when tha's gone. Th' thowt's too much for me. Eh, lass,
A'm feart o' yon great gaunt building wi' th' drear windows.

EMMA. 'Appen ma moother 'ull coom in. Tha'll do wi' a bit o'
coompany. A 'll ask her to coom an' fetch thee a coop o' tea

(_A knock at the door._)

SARAH. Who's theer?

SAM (_without_). It's only me, Mrs. Ormerod.

EMMA. A do declare it's that Sam Horrocks again.

SARAH. Sam Horrocks! What can th'lad be after now? (_Calling_) Hast
tha wiped thy boots on scraper?

SAM. Yes, Mrs. Ormerod.

SARAH. Coom in then. (EMMA _in left corner. Enter_ SAM.) Tak' thy
cap off.

SAM. Yes, Mrs. Ormerod.

SARAH. What dost want?

SAM. A've soom business 'ere. A thowt A'd find thee by thysel'.
A'll coom again (_bolting nervously for the door_).

SARAH. Let that door be. Dost say tha's got business 'ere?

SAM. Aye, wi' thee. A'd like a word wi' thee private.

(EMMA _moves to open door._)

SARAH. All reeght. Emma's just goin' to 'er dinner.

EMMA (_speaking through door_). A'll ask my moother to step hi
later on, Mrs. Ormerod, and thank thee very much for th' teapot.

SARAH. A'll be thankful if she'll coom. (_Exit_ EMMA _with teapot._)
Now, Sam Horrocks, what's the matter wi' thee?

SAM (_dropping the cotton-waste he is fumbling with and picking it
up_). It's a fine day for th' time o' th' year.

SARAH. Didst want to see me private to tell me that, lad?

SAM. Naw, not exactly.

SARAH. Well, what is it then? Coom, lad, A'm waitin' on thee. Art
tongue-tied? Can't tha quit mawlin' yon bit o' waste an' tell me
what 'tis tha wants?

SAM (_desperately_). Mebbe it'll not be so fine in th' mornin'.

SARAH. A'll tell thee what A'd do to thee if A 'ad the use o' my
'ands, my lad. A'd coom aside thee and A'd box thy ears. If tha's
got business wi' me, tha'd best state it sharp or A 'll be
showin' thee the shape o' my door.

SAM. Tha do fluster a feller so as A doan't knaw wheer A am. A've
not been nagged like that theer sin' my ould moother died.

SARAH. A've 'eerd folk say Sal Horrocks were a slick un wi' 'er

SAM (_admiringly_). She were that. Rare talker she were. She'd lie
theer in 'er bed all day as it might be in yon corner, an' call
me all th' names she could put her tongue to, till A couldn't
tell ma reeght 'and from ma left. (_Still reminiscent._) Wonnerful
sperrit, she 'ad, considerin' she were bed-ridden so long. She
were only a little un an' cripple an' all, but by gum, she could
sling it at a feller if 'er tea weren't brewed to 'er taste.
Talk! She'd talk a donkey's yead off, she would.

SARAH (_on her mettle_). An' A'll talk thy silly yead off an' all
if tha doan't get sharp to tellin' me what tha wants after in my
'ouse, tha great mazed idiot.

SAM. Eh, but she were a rare un.

SARAH. The lad's daft aboot his moother.

SAM (_detachedly, looking at window; pause_). Wunnerful breeght the
sky is, to-day.

SARAH. Tha great 'ulkin' fool. A'd tak' a broomstick to thee
if--if A'd the use o' my 'ands.

SAM. Now, if that isn't just what ma moother used to say.

SARAH. Dang thy moother. An' A doan't mean no disrepect to 'er
neither. She's bin in 'er grave this year an' more, poor woman.

SAM. A canna 'elp thinkin' to 'er all same. Eh, but she were

SARAH. An' A'd be wunnerful too. A'd talk to thee. A'd call thee
if A were thy moother an' A'd to live aside o' thee neeght an'

SAM (_eagerly_). Eh, by gum, but A wish tha would.

SARAH. Would what?

SAM. Would coom an' live along wi' me.

SARAH. Tha great fool, what does mean? Art askin' me to wed thee?

SAM. A didn't mean to offend thee, Mrs. Ormerod. A'm sorry A
spoke. A allays do wrong thing. But A did so 'ope as tha might
coom. Tha sees A got used to moother. A got used to 'earin' 'er
cuss me. A got used to doin' for 'er an' A've nought to do in th'
evenings now. It's terrible lonesome in th' neeghttime. An' when
notion coom to me, A thowt as A'd mention un to thee casual.

SARAH. Dost mean it, Sam Horrocks? Dost tha know what tha's
sayin', or is tha foolin' me?

SAM. O' course A mean it. Tha sees A'm not a marryin' sort. Th'
lasses won't look at me. A'm silly Sam to them, A knaws it. A've
a slate loose; A shan't never get wed. A thowt A'd mebbe a chance
wi' yon lass as were 'ere wi' thee, but hoo towld me A were too
late. A allays were slow. A left askin' too long an' A 've missed
'er. A gets good money, Mrs. Ormerod, but A canna talk to a young
wench. They mak's me go 'ot and cowld all over. An' when curate
towld me as tha was to go to workus, A thowt A'd a chance wi'
thee. A knaw'd it weren't a big chance, because my plaice ain't
much cop after what tha's bin used to 'ere. A've got no fine
fixin's nor big chairs an' things like as tha used to 'ave. Eh,
but A would 'ave loved to do for thee as A used to do for ma
moother, an' when A yeerd thee talkin' now an' callin' me a fool
an' th' rest, by gum, A just yearned to 'ave thee for allays.
Tha'd fill 'er plaice wunnerful well. A'd just a' loved to adopt

SARAH. To adopt me?

SAM. Ay, for a moother. A'm sorry tha can't see thy way to let
me. A didn't mean no offence (_turning to the door_).

SARAH. 'Ere, lad, tha tell me this. If A'd said tha might tak' me
for thy moother, what wouldst ha' done?

SAM. Why, kissed thee, an' takken thee oop in ma arms whoam to
thy bed. It's standin' ready in yonder wi' clean sheets an' all,
an' a new quilt from Co-op. A 'opes you'll pardon th' liberty o'
mentioning it.

SARAH. A new quilt, Sam? What's color?

SAM. Red, wi' blue stripes down 'er.

SARAH. A'm not a light weight, tha knows.

SAM. A'd carry thee easy--"Strong in th' arm and weak in th'
yead." It's an ould sayin', but it's a good un, an' it fits.

SARAH. Wilt tha try, Sam Horrocks? God bless thee, wilt tha try,

SAM. Dost mean it, Mrs. Ormerod? Dost mean tha'll coom? Tha's not
coddin' a feller, art tha?

SARAH. No, A'm not coddin'. Kiss me, Sam, my son.

(_He kisses her and lifts her in his arms._)

SAM. By gum, but that were good. A'll coom back fur thy box.

SABAH. Carry me careful, tha great luny. A'm not a sack o' flour.

SAM. Eh, but A likes to year thee talk. Yon was real mootherly,
it were.

(_Exit through door, carrying her._)

[CURTAIN _at clink of latch_]


J.M. Synge

[Footnote 1: Included by permission of Messrs. John W. Luce and


MAURYA, an old woman
BARTLEY, her son
CATHLEEN, her daughter
NORA, a younger daughter

SCENE: _An island off the West of Ireland. Cottage kitchen, with
nets, oilskins, spinning-wheel, some new boards standing by the
wall, etc._ CATHLEEN, _a girl of about twenty, finishes kneading
cake, and puts it down in the pot-oven by the fire; then wipes
her hands, and begins to spin at the wheel._ NORA, _a young girl,
puts her head in at the door._

NORA (_in a low voice_). Where is she?

CATHLEEN. She's lying down, God help her, and maybe sleeping, if
she's able.

(NORA _comes in softly, and takes a bundle from under her shawl._)

CATHLEEN (_spinning the wheel rapidly_). What is it you have?

NOBA. The young priest is after bringing them. It's a shirt and a
plain stocking were got off a drowned man in Donegal.

(CATHLEEN _stops her wheel with a sudden movement, and leans out
to listen._)

NORA. We're to find out if it's Michael's they are; some time
herself will be down looking by the sea.

CATHLEEN. How would they be Michael's, Nora? How would he go the
length of that way to the far north?

NORA. The young priest says he's known the like of it. "If it's
Michael's they are," says he, "you can tell herself he's got a
clean burial by the grace of God, and if they're not his, let no
one say a word about them, for she'll be getting her death," says
he, "with crying and lamenting."

(_The door which_ NORA _half closed is blown open by a gust of

CATHLEEN (_looking out anxiously_). Did you ask him would he stop
Bartley going this day with the horses to the Galway fair?

NORA. "I won't stop him," says he, "but let you not be afraid.
Herself does be saying prayers half through the night, and the
Almighty God won't leave her destitute," says he, "with no son

CATHLEEN. Is the sea bad by the white rocks, Nora?

NORA. Middling bad, God help us. There's a great roaring in the
west, and it's worse it'll be getting when the tide's turned to
the wind.

(_She goes over to the table with the bundle._)

Shall I open it now?

CATHLEEN. Maybe she'd wake up on us, and come in before we'd
done. (_Coming to the table_) It's a long time we'll be, and the
two of us crying.

NORA (_goes to the inner door and listens_). She's moving about on
the bed. She'll be coming in a minute.

CATHLEEN. Give me the ladder, and I'll put them up in the
turf-loft, the way she won't know of them at all, and maybe when
the tide turns she'll be going down to see would he be floating
from the east.

(_They put the ladder against the gable of the chimney_; CATHLEEN
_goes up a few steps and hides the bundle in the turf-loft. MAURYA
comes from the inner room._)

MAURYA (_looking up at CATHLEEN and speaking querulously_). Isn't
it turf enough you have for this day and evening?

CATHLEEN. There's a cake baking at the fire for a short space
(_throwing down the turf_) and Bartley will want it when the tide
turns if he goes to Connemara.

(NORA _picks up the turf and puts it round the pot-oven._)

MAURYA (_sitting down on a stool at the fire_). He won't go this
day with the wind rising from the south and west. He won't go
this day, for the young priest will stop him surely.

NORA. He'll not stop him, mother, and I heard Eamon Simon and
Stephen Pheety and Colum Shawn saying he would go.

MAURYA. Where is he itself?

NORA. He went down to see would there be another boat sailing in
the week, and I'm thinking it won't be long till he's here now,
for the tide's turning at the green head, and the hooker's
tacking from the east.

CATHLEEN. I hear someone passing the big stones.

NORA (_looking out_). He's coming now, and he in a hurry.

BARTLEY (_comes in and looks round the room; speaking sadly and
quietly_). Where is the bit of new rope, Cathleen, was bought in

CATHLEEN (_coming down_). Give it to him, Nora; it's on a nail by
the white boards. I hung it up this morning, for the pig with the
black feet was eating it.

NORA (_giving him a rope_). Is that it, Bartley?

MAURYA. You'd do right to leave that rope, Bartley, hanging by
the boards. (BARTLEY _takes the rope._) It will be wanting in this
place, I'm telling you, if Michael is washed up to-morrow
morning, or the next morning, or any morning in the week, for
it's a deep grave we'll make him by the grace of God.

BARTLEY (_beginning to work with the rope_). I've no halter the way
I can ride down on the mare, and I must go now quickly. This is
the one boat going for two weeks or beyond it, and the fair will
be a good fair for horses, I heard them saying below.

MAURYA. It's a hard thing they'll be saying below if the body is
washed up and there's no man in it to make the coffin, and I
after giving a big price for the finest white boards you'd find
in Connemara.

(_She looks round at the boards._)

BARTLEY. How would it be washed up, and we after looking each day
for nine days, and a strong wind blowing a while back from the
west and south?

MAURYA. If it wasn't found itself, that wind is raising the sea,
and there was a star up against the moon, and it rising in the
night. If it was a hundred horses, or a thousand horses you had
itself, what is the price of a thousand horses against a son
where there is one son only?

BARTLEY (_working at the halter, to_ CATHLEEN). Let you go down
each day, and see the sheep aren't jumping in on the rye, and if
the jobber comes you can sell the pig with the black feet if
there is a good price going.

MAURYA. How would the like of her get a good price for a pig?

BARTLEY (_to_ CATHLEEN). If the west wind holds with the last bit
of the moon let you and Nora get up weed enough for another cock
for the kelp. It's hard set we'll be from this day with no one in
it but one man to work.

MAURYA. It's hard set we'll be surely the day you're drownd'd
with the rest. What way will I live and the girls with me, and I
an old woman looking for the grave?

(BARTLEY _lays down the halter, takes off his old coat, and puts
on a newer one of the same flannel._)

BARTLEY (_to_ NORA). Is she coming to the pier?

NORA (_looking out_). She's passing the green head and letting fall
her sails.

BARTLEY (_getting his purse and tobacco_). I'll have half an hour
to go down, and you'll see me coming again in two days, or in
three days, or maybe in four days if the wind is bad.

MAURYA (_turning round to the fire, and putting her shawl over her
head_). Isn't it a hard and cruel man won't hear a word from an
old woman, and she holding him from the sea?

CATHLEEN. It's the life of a young man to be going on the sea,
and who would listen to an old woman with one thing and she
saying it over?

BARTLEY (_taking the halter_). I must go now quickly. I'll ride
down on the red mare, and the gray pony'll run behind me. The
blessing of God on you.

(_He goes out._)

MAURYA (_crying out as he is in the door_). He's gone now, God
spare us, and we'll not see him again. He's gone now, and when
the black night is falling I'll have no son left me in the world.

CATHLEEN. Why wouldn't you give him your blessing and he looking
round in the door? Isn't it sorrow enough is on everyone in this
house without your sending him out with an unlucky word behind
him, and a hard word in his ear?

(MAURYA _takes up the tongs and begins raking the fire aimlessly
without looking round._)

NORA (_turning towards her_). You're taking away the turf from the

CATHLEEN (_crying out_). The Son of God forgive us, Nora, we're
after forgetting his bit of bread.

(_She comes over to the fire._)

NORA. And it's destroyed he'll be going till dark night, and he
after eating nothing since the sun went up.

CATHLEEN (_turning the cake out of the oven_). It's destroyed he'll
be, surely. There's no sense left on any person in a house where
an old woman will be talking for ever.

(MAURYA _sways herself on her stool._)

CATHLEEN (_cutting off some of the bread and rolling it in a
cloth, to_ MAURYA). Let you go down now to the spring well and
give him this and he passing. You'll see him then and the dark
word will be broken, and you can say, "God speed you," the way
he'll be easy in his mind.

MAURYA (_taking the bread_). Will I be in it as soon as himself?

CATHLEEN. If you go now quickly.

MAURYA (_standing up unsteadily_). It's hard set I am to walk.

CATHLEEN (_looking at her anxiously_). Give her the stick, Nora, or
maybe she'll slip on the big stones.

NORA. What stick?

CATHLEEN. The stick Michael brought from Connemara.

MAURYA (_taking a stick NORA gives her_). In the big world the old
people do be leaving things after them for their sons and
children, but in this place it is the young men do be leaving
things behind for them that do be old.

(_She goes out slowly. NORA goes over to the ladder._)

CATHLEEN. Wait, Nora, maybe she'd turn back quickly. She's that
sorry, God help her, you wouldn't know the thing she'd do.

NORA. Is she gone round by the bush?

CATHLEEN (_looking out_). She's gone now. Throw it down quickly,
for the Lord knows when she'll be out of it again.

NORA (_getting the bundle from the loft_). The young priest said
he'd be passing to-morrow, and we might go down and speak to him
below if it's Michael's they are surely.

CATHLEEN (_taking the bundle_). Did he say what way they were

NORA (_coming down_). "There were two men," says he, "and they
rowing round with poteen before the cocks crowed, and the oar of
one of them caught the body, and they passing the black cliffs of
the north."

CATHLEEN (_trying to open the bundle_). Give me a knife, Nora; the
string's perished with the salt water, and there's a black knot
on it you wouldn't loosen in a week.

NORA (_giving her a knife_). I've heard tell it was a long way to

CATHLEEN (_cutting the string_). It is surely. There was a man in
here a while ago--the man sold us that knife--and he said if you
set off walking from the rocks beyond, it would be seven days
you'd be in Donegal.

NORA. And what time would a man take, and he floating?

(CATHLEEN _opens the bundle and takes out a bit of a stocking.
They look at them eagerly._)

CATHLEEN (_in a low voice_). The Lord spare us, Nora! Isn't it a
queer hard thing to say if it's his they are surely?

NORA. I'll get his shirt off the hook the way we can put the one
flannel on the other. (_She looks through some clothes hanging in
the corner_) It's not with them, Cathleen, and where will it be?

CATHLEEN. I'm thinking Bartley put it on him in the morning, for
his own shirt was heavy with the salt in it. (_Pointing to the
corner_) There's a bit of a sleeve was of the same stuff. Give me
that and it will do.

(NORA _brings it to her and they compare the flannel._)

CATHLEEN. It's the same stuff, Nora; but if it is itself, aren't
there great rolls of it in the shops of Galway, and isn't it many
another man may have a shirt of it as well as Michael himself?

NORA (_who has taken up the stocking and counted the stitches,
crying out_) It's Michael, Cathleen, it's Michael; God spare his
soul and what will herself say when she hears this story, and
Bartley on the sea?

CATHLEEN (_taking the stocking_). It's a plain stocking.

NORA. It's the second one of the third pair I knitted, and I put
up three score stitches, and I dropped four of them.

CATHLEEN (_counts the stitches_). It's that number is in it.
(_Crying out_) Ah, Nora, isn't it a bitter thing to think of him
floating that way to the far north, and no one to keen him but
the black hags that do be flying on the sea?

NORA (_swinging herself round, and throwing out her arms on the
clothes_). And isn't it a pitiful thing when there is nothing left
of a man who was a great rower and fisher, but a bit of an old
shirt and a plain stocking?

CATHLEEN (_after an instant_). Tell me is herself coming, Nora? I
hear a little sound on the path.

NORA (_looking out_). She is, Cathleen. She's coming up to the

CATHLEEN. Put these things away before she'll come in. Maybe it's
easier she'll be after giving her blessing to Bartley, and we
won't let on we've heard anything the time he's on the sea.

NORA (_helping CATHLEEN to close the bundle_). We'll put them here
in the corner.

(_They put them into a hole in the chimney corner. CATHLEEN goes
back to the spinning wheel._)

NORA. Will she see it was crying I was?

CATHLEEN. Keep your back to the door the way the light'll not be
on you.

(NORA _sits down at the chimney corner, with her back to the door._
MAURYA _comes in very slowly, without looking at the girls, and
goes over to her stool at the other side of the fire. The cloth
with the bread is still in her hand. The girls look at each
other, and_ NORA _points to the bundle of bread._)

CATHLEEN (_offer spinning for a moment_), You didn't give him his
bit of bread?

(MAURYA _begins to keen softly, without turning round._)

CATHLEEN. Did you see him riding down?

(MAURYA _goes on keening._)

CATHLEEN (_a little impatiently_). God forgive you; isn't it a
better thing to raise your voice and tell what you seen, than to
be making lamentation for a thing that's done? Did you see
Bartley, I'm saying to you.

MAURYA (_with a weak voice_). My heart's broken from this day.

CATHLEEN (_as before_). Did you see Bartley?

MAURYA. I seen the fearfulest thing.

CATHLEEN (_leaves her wheel and looks out_). God forgive you; he's
riding the mare now over the green head, and the gray pony behind

MAURYA (_starts, so that her shawl falls back from her head and
shows her white tossed hair; with a frightened voice_). The gray
pony behind him.

CATHLEEN (_coming to the fire_). What is it ails you, at all?

MAURYA (_speaking very slowly_). I've seen the fearfulest thing any
person has seen, since the day Bride Dara seen the dead man with
the child in his arms.


(_They crouch down in front of the old woman at the fire._)

NORA. Tell us what it is you seen.

MAURYA. I went down to the spring-well, and I stood there saying
a prayer to myself. Then Bartley came along, and he riding on the
red mare with the gray pony behind him. (_She puts up her hands,
as if to hide something from her eyes._) The Son of God spare us,

CATHLEEN. What is it you seen?

MAURYA. I seen Michael himself.

CATHLEEN (_speaking softly_). You did not, mother; it wasn't
Michael you seen, for his body is after being found in the far
north, and he's got a clean burial by the grace of God.

MAURYA (_a little defiantly_). I'm after seeing him this day, and
he riding and galloping. Bartley came first on the red mare; and
I tried to say "God speed you," but something choked the words in
my throat. He went by quickly; and, "The blessing of God on you,"
says he, and I could say nothing. I looked up then, and I crying,
at the gray pony, and there was Michael upon it--with fine
clothes on him, and new shoes on his feet.

CATHLEEN (_begins to keen_). It's destroyed we are from this day.
It's destroyed, surely.

NORA. Didn't the young priest say the Almighty God wouldn't leave
her destitute with no son living?

MAUKYA (_in a low voice, but clearly_). It's little the like of him
knows of the sea.... Bartley will be lost now, and let you call
in Eamon and make me a good coffin out of the white boards, for I
won't live after them. I've had a husband, and a husband's
father, and six sons in this house--six fine men, though it was a
hard birth I had with every one of them and they coming to the
world--and some of them were found and some of them were not
found, but they're gone now, the lot of them.... There were
Stephen, and Shawn, were lost in the great wind, and found after
in the Bay of Gregory of the Golden Mouth, and carried up the two
of them on the one plank, and in by that door.

(_She pauses for a moment, the girls start as if they heard
something through the door that is half-open behind them._)

NORA (_in a whisper_). Did you hear that, Cathleen? Did you hear a
noise in the northeast?

CATHLEEN (_in a whisper_). There's someone after crying out by the

MAURYA (_continues without hearing anything_). There was Sheamus
and his father, and his own father again, were lost in a dark
night, and not a stick or sign was seen of them when the sun went
up. There was Patch after was drowned out of a curagh that turned
over. I was sitting here with Bartley, and he a baby, lying on my
two knees, and I seen two women, and three women, and four women
coming in, and they crossing themselves, and not saying a word. I
looked out then, and there were men coming after them, and they
holding a thing in the half of a red sail, and water dripping out
of it--it was a dry day, Nora--and leaving a track to the door.

(_She pauses again with her hand stretched out towards the door.
It opens softly and old women begin to come in, crossing
themselves on the threshold, and kneeling down in front of the
stage with red petticoats over their heads._)

MAURYA (_half in a dream, to Cathleen_). Is it Patch, or Michael,
or what is it at all?

CATHLEEN. Michael is after being found in the far north, and when
he is found there how could he be here in this place?

MAURYA. There does be a power of young men floating round in the
sea, and what way would they know if it was Michael they had, or
another man like him, for when a man is nine days in the sea, and
the wind blowing, it's hard set his own mother would be to say
what man was it.

CATHLEEN. It's Michael, God spare him, for they're after sending
us a bit of his clothes from the far north.

(_She reaches out and hands MAURYA the clothes that belonged to_
MICHAEL. MAURYA _stands up slowly, and takes them in her hands._
NORA _looks out._)

NORA. They're carrying a thing among them and there's water
dripping out of it and leaving a track by the big stones.

CATHLEEN (_in a whisper to the women who have come in_). Is it
Bartley it is?

ONE OF THE WOMEN. It is surely, God rest his soul.

(_Two younger women come in and pull out the table. Then men carry
in the body of_ BARTLEY, _laid on a plank, with a bit of a sail
over it, and lay it on the table._)

CATHLEEN (_to the women, as they are doing so_). What way was he

ONE OF THE WOMEN. The gray pony knocked him into the sea, and he
was washed out where there is a great surf on the white rocks.

(MAURYA _has gone over and knelt down at the head of the table.
The women are keening softly and swaying themselves with a slow
movement._ CATHLEEN _and_ NORA _kneel at the other end of the table.
The men kneel near the door._)

MAURYA (_raising her head and speaking as if she did not see the
people around her_). They're all gone now, and there isn't
anything more the sea can do to me.... I'll have no call now to
be up crying and praying when the wind breaks from the south, and
you can hear the surf is in the east, and the surf is in the
west, making a great stir with the two noises, and they hitting
one on the other. I'll have no call now to be going down and
getting Holy Water in the dark nights after Samhain, and I won't
care what way the sea is when the other women will be keening.
(_To_ NORA) Give me the Holy Water, Nora; there's a small sup still
on the dresser.

(NORA _gives it to her._)

MAURYA (_drops_ MICHAEL'S _clothes across_ BARTLEY'S _feet, and
sprinkles the Holy Water over him_). It isn't that I haven't
prayed for you, BARTLEY, to the Almighty God. It isn't that I
haven't said prayers in the dark night till you wouldn't know
what I'd be saying; but it's a great rest I'll have now, and it's
time surely. It's a great rest I'll have now, and great sleeping
in the long nights after Samhain, if it's only a bit of wet flour
we do have to eat, and maybe a fish that would be stinking.

(_She kneels down again, crossing herself, and saying prayers
under her breath._)

CATHLEEN (_to an old man_). Maybe yourself and Eamon would make a
coffin when the sun rises. We have fine white boards herself
bought, God help her, thinking Michael would be found, and I have
a new cake you can eat while you'll be working.

THE OLD MAN (_looking at the boards_). Are there nails with them?

CATHLEEN. There are not, Colum; we didn't think of the nails.

ANOTHER MAN. It's a great wonder she wouldn't think of the nails,
and all the coffins she's seen made already.

CATHLEEN. It's getting old she is, and broken.

(MAURYA _stands up again very slowly and spreads out the pieces of_
MICHAEL'S _clothes beside the body, sprinkling them with the last
of the Holy Water._)

NORA (_in a whisper to_ CATHLEEN). She's quiet now and easy; but
the day Michael was drowned you could hear her crying out from
this to the spring-well. It's fonder she was of Michael, and
would anyone have thought that?

CATHLEEN (_slowly and clearly_). An old woman will be soon tired
with anything she will do, and isn't it nine days herself is
after crying and keening, and making great sorrow in the house?

MAURYA (_puts the empty cup mouth downwards on the table, and lays
her hands together on_ BARTLEY'S _feet_). They're all together this
time, and the end is come. May the Almighty God have mercy on
Bartley's soul, and on Michael's soul, and on the souls of
Sheamus and Patch, and Stephen and Shawn (_bending her head_); and
may He have mercy on my soul, Nora, and on the soul of everyone
is left living in the world.

(_She pauses, and the keen rises a little more loudly from the
women, then sinks away._)

MAURYA (_continuing_). Michael has a clean burial in the far north,
by the grace of the Almighty God. Bartley will have a fine coffin
out of the white boards, and a deep grave surely. What more can
we want than that? No man at all can be living for ever, and we
must be satisfied.

(_She kneels down again, and the curtain falls slowly_).


William Butler Yeats

[Footnote 1: Reprinted by arrangement with Mr. Yeats and the
Macmillan Company, New York, publishers of Mr. Yeats's Collected
Works (1912).]


SHAWN BRUIN, their son
MAIRE BRUIN, wife of Shawn

SCENE: _In the Barony of Kilmacowan, in the county of Sligo, at a
remote time._

SETTING: _a room with a hearth on the floor in the middle of a
deep alcove on the right. There are benches in the alcove, and a
table; a crucifix on the wall. The alcove is full of a glow of
light from the fire. There is an open door facing the audience,
to the left, and to the left of this a bench. Through the door
one can see the forest. It is night, but the moon or a late
sunset glimmers through the trees, and carries the eye far off
into a vague, mysterious world. MAURTEEN BRUIN, SHAWN BRUIN, and
BRIDGET BRUIN sit in the alcove at the table, or about the fire.
They are dressed in the costume of some remote time, and near
them sits an old priest, FATHER HART, in the garb of a friar.
There is food and drink upon the table. MAIRE BRUIN stands by the
door, reading a yellow manuscript. If she looks up, she can see
through the door into the wood._

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
  Because I bade her go and feed the calves,
  She took that old book down out of the thatch
  And has been doubled over it all day.
  We should be deafened by her groans and moans
  Had she to work as some do, Father Hart,
  Get up at dawn like me, and mend and scour;
  Or ride abroad in the boisterous night like you,
  The pyx and blessed bread under your arm.

                        SHAWN BRUIN
  You are too cross.

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
                        The young side with the young.

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
  She quarrels with my wife a bit at times,
  And is too deep just now in the old book!
  But do not blame her greatly; she will grow
  As quiet as a puff-ball in a tree
  When but the moons of marriage dawn and die
  For half a score of times.

                        FATHER HART
                                Their hearts are wild
  As be the hearts of birds, till children come.

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
  She would not mind the griddle, milk the cow,
  Or even lay the knives and spread the cloth.

                        FATHER HART
  I never saw her read a book before;
  What may it be?

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
                      I do not rightly know;
  It has been in the thatch for fifty years.
  My father told me my grandfather wrote it,
  Killed a red heifer and bound it with the hide.
  But draw your chair this way--supper is spread;
  And little good he got out of the book,
  Because it filled his house with roaming bards,
  And roaming ballad-makers and the like,
  And wasted all his goods.--Here is the wine:
  The griddle bread's beside you, Father Hart.
  Colleen, what have you got there in the book
  That you must leave the bread to cool? Had I,
  Or had my father, read or written books
  There were no stocking stuffed with golden guineas
  To come, when I am dead, to Shawn and you.

                        FATHER HART
  You should not fill your head with foolish dreams.
  What are you reading?

                        MARIE BRUIN
                           How a Princess Edane,
  A daughter of a King of Ireland, heard
  A voice singing on a May Eve like this,
  And followed, half awake and half asleep,
  Until she came into the Land of Faëry,
  Where nobody gets old and godly and grave,
  Where nobody gets old and crafty and wise,
  Where nobody gets old and bitter of tongue;
  And she is still there, busied with a dance,
  Deep in the dewy shadow of a wood,
  Or where stars walk upon a mountain-top.

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
  Persuade the colleen to put by the book:
  My grandfather would mutter just such things,
  And he was no judge of a dog or horse,
  And any idle boy could blarney him:
  Just speak your mind.

                        FATHER HART
                          Put it away, my colleen.
  God spreads the heavens above us like great wings,
  And gives a little round of deeds and days,
  And then come the wrecked angels and set snares,
  And bait them with light hopes and heavy dreams,
  Until the heart is puffed with pride and goes,
  Half shuddering and half joyous, from God's peace:
  And it was some wrecked angel, blind from tears,
  Who flattered Edane's heart with merry words.
  My colleen, I have seen some other girls
  Restless and ill at ease, but years went by
  And they grew like their neighbours and were glad
  In minding children, working at the churn,
  And gossiping of weddings and of wakes;
  For life moves out of a red flare of dreams
  Into a common light of common hours,
  Until old age bring the red flare again.

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
  That's true--but she's too young to know it's true.

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
  She's old enough to know that it is wrong
  To mope and idle.

                        SHAWN BRUIN
                      I've little blame for her;
  And mother's tongue were harder still to bear,
  But for her fancies: this is May Eve too,
  When the good people post about the world,
  And surely one may think of them to-night.
  Maire, have you the primroses to fling
  Before the door to make a golden path
  For them to bring good luck into the house?
  Remember, they may steal new-married brides
  After the fall of twilight on May Eve.

    (MAIRE BRUIN _goes over to the window and takes flowers
      from the bowl and strews them outside the door._)

                        FATHER HART
  You do well, daughter, because God permits
  Great power to the good people on May Eve.

                        SHAWN BRUIN
  They can work all their will with primroses;
  Change them to golden money, or little flames
  To burn up those who do them any wrong.

                        MARIE BRUIN (_in a dreamy voice_)
  I had no sooner flung them by the door
  Than the wind cried and hurried them away;
  And then a child came running in the wind
  And caught them in her hands and fondled them:
  Her dress was green: her hair was of red gold;
  Her face was pale as water before dawn.

                        FATHER HART
  Whose child can this be?

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
                            No one's child at all.
  She often dreams that someone has gone by
  When there was nothing but a puff of wind.

                        MARIE BRUIN
  They will not bring good luck into the house,
  For they have blown the primroses away;
  Yet I am glad that I was courteous to them,
  For are not they, likewise, children of God?

                        FATHER HART
  Colleen, they are the children of the fiend,
  And they have power until the end of Time,
  When God shall fight with them a great pitched battle
  And hack them into pieces.

                        MARIE BRUIN
                                He will smile,
  Father, perhaps, and open His great door,
  And call the pretty and kind into His house.

                        FATHER HART
  Did but the lawless angels see that door,
  They would fall, slain by everlasting peace;
  And when such angels knock upon our doors
  Who goes with them must drive through the same storm.

    (_A knock at the door._ MAIRE BRUIN _opens it and then
      goes to the dresser and fills a porringer with milk and
      hands it through the door, and takes it back empty and
      closes the door._)

                        MARIE BRUIN
  A little queer old woman cloaked in green,
  Who came to beg a porringer of milk.

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
  The good people go asking milk and fire
  Upon May Eve--Woe on the house that gives,
  For they have power upon it for a year.
  I knew you would bring evil on the house.

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
  Who was she?

                        MARIE BRUIN
                Both the tongue and face were strange.

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
  Some strangers came last week to Clover Hill;
  She must be one of them.

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
                            I am afraid.

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
  The priest will keep all harm out of the house.

                        FATHER HART
  The cross will keep all harm out of the house
  While it hangs there.

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
                      Come, sit beside me, colleen,
  And put away your dreams of discontent,
  For I would have you light up my last days
  Like the good glow of the turf, and when I die
  I will make you the wealthiest hereabout:
  For hid away where nobody can find
  I have a stocking full of yellow guineas.

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
  You are the fool of every pretty face,
  And I must pinch and pare that my son's wife
  May have all kinds of ribbons for her head.

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
  Do not be cross; she is a right good girl!
  The butter is by your elbow, Father Hart.
  My colleen, have not Fate and Time and Change
  Done well for me and for old Bridget there?
  We have a hundred acres of good land,
  And sit beside each other at the fire,
  The wise priest of our parish to our right,
  And you and our dear son to left of us.
  To sit beside the board and drink good wine
  And watch the turf smoke coiling from the fire
  And feel content and wisdom in your heart,
  This is the best of life; when we are young
  We long to tread a way none trod before,
  But find the excellent old way through love
  And through the care of children to the hour
  For bidding Fate and Time and Change good-bye.

    (_A knock at the door._ MAIRE BRUIN _opens it and then
      takes a sod of turf out of the hearth in the tongs and
      goes out through the door._ SHAWN _follows her and
      meets her coming in._)

                        SHAWN BRUIN
  What is it draws you to the chill o' the wood?
  There is a light among the stems of the trees
  That makes one shiver.

                        MARIE BRUIN
                          A little queer old man
  Made me a sign to show he wanted fire
  To light his pipe.

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
                        You've given milk and fire,
  Upon the unluckiest night of the year, and brought,
  For all you know, evil upon the house.
  Before you married you were idle and fine,
  And went about with ribbons on your head;
  And now--no, father, I will speak my mind,
  She is not a fitting wife for any man--

                        SHAWN BRUIN
  Be quiet, mother!

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
                          You are much too cross!

                        MARIE BRUIN
  What do I care if I have given this house,
  Where I must hear all day a bitter tongue,
  Into the power of faëries!

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
                            You know well
  How calling the good people by that name
  Or talking of them over much at all
  May bring all kinds of evil on the house.

                        MARIE BRUIN
  Come, faëries, take me out of this dull house!
  Let me have all the freedom I have lost;
  Work when I will and idle when I will!
  Faëries, come take me out of this dull world,
  For I would ride with you upon the wind,
  Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
  And dance upon the mountains like a flame!

                        FATHER HART
  You cannot know the meaning of your words.

                        MARIE BRUIN
  Father, I am right weary of four tongues:
  A tongue that is too crafty and too wise,
  A tongue that is too godly and too grave,
  A tongue that is more bitter than the tide,
  And a kind tongue too full of drowsy love,
  Of drowsy love and my captivity.

    (SHAWN BRUIN _comes over to her and leads her to the

                        SHAWN BRUIN
  Do not blame me: I often lie awake
  Thinking that all things trouble your bright head--
  How beautiful it is--such broad pale brows
  Under a cloudy blossoming of hair!
  Sit down beside me here--these are too old,
  And have forgotten they were ever young.

                        MARIE BRUIN
  Oh, you are the great door-post of this house,
  And I, the red nasturtium, climbing up.

    (_She takes_ SHAWN'S _hand, but looks shyly at the priest
      and lets it go._)

                        FATHER HART
  Good daughter, take his hand--by love alone
  God binds us to Himself and to the hearth
  And shuts us from the waste beyond His peace,
  From maddening freedom and bewildering light.

                        SHAWN BRUIN
  Would that the world were mine to give it you
  With every quiet hearth and barren waste,
  The maddening freedom of its woods and tides,
  And the bewildering light upon its hills.

                        MARIE BRUIN
  Then I would take and break it in my hands
  To see you smile watching it crumble away.

                        SHAWN BRUIN
  Then I would mould a world of fire and dew
  With no one bitter, grave, or over wise,
  And nothing marred or old to do you wrong,
  And crowd the enraptured quiet of the sky
  With candles burning to your lonely face.

                        MARIE BRUIN
  Your looks are all the candles that I need.

                        SHAWN BRUIN
  Once a fly dancing in a beam of the sun,
  Or the light wind blowing out of the dawn,
  Could fill your heart with dreams none other knew,
  But now the indissoluble sacrament
  Has mixed your heart that was most proud and cold
  With my warm heart forever; and sun and moon
  Must fade and heaven be rolled up like a scroll;
  But your white spirit still walk by my spirit.

                 (_A_ VOICE _sings in the distance._)

                        MARIE BRUIN
  Did you hear something call? Oh, guard me close,
  Because I have said wicked things to-night;
  And seen a pale-faced child with red-gold hair,
  And longed to dance upon the winds with her.

                        A VOICE (_close to the door_)
      The wind blows out of the gates of the day,
      The wind blows over the lonely of heart
      And the lonely of heart is withered away,
      While the faëries dance in a place apart,
      Shaking their milk-white feet in a ring,
      Tossing their milk-white arms in the air;
      For they hear the wind laugh, and murmur and sing
      Of a land where even the old are fair,
      And even the wise are merry of tongue;
      But I heard a reed of Coolaney say,
      "When the wind has laughed and murmured and sung,
      The lonely of heart is withered away!"

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
  I am right happy, and would make all else
  Be happy too. I hear a child outside,
  And will go bring her in out of the cold.

    (_He opens the door. A_ CHILD _dressed in pale green and
      with red-gold hair comes into the house._)

                        THE CHILD
  I tire of winds and waters and pale lights!

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
  You are most welcome. It is cold out there;
  Who would think to face such cold on a May Eve?

                        THE CHILD
  And when I tire of this warm little house
  There is one here who must away, away,
  To where the woods, the stars, and the white streams
  Are holding a continual festival.

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
  Oh, listen to her dreamy and strange talk.
  Come to the fire.

                        THE CHILD
                    I will sit upon your knee,
  For I have run from where the winds are born,
  And long to rest my feet a little while.

                              (_She sits upon his knee._)

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
  How pretty you are!

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
                        Your hair is wet with dew!

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
  I will warm your chilly feet.

              (_She takes the child's feet in her hands._)

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
                                You must have come
  A long, long way, for I have never seen
  Your pretty face, and must be tired and hungry;
  Here is some bread and wine.

                        THE CHILD
                                The wine is bitter.
  Old mother, have you no sweet food for me?

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
  I have some honey!

                          (_She goes into the next room._)

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
                        You are a dear child;
  The mother was quite cross before you came.

    (BRIDGET _returns with the honey, and goes to the dresser
      and fills a porringer with milk._)

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
  She is the child of gentle people; look
  At her white hands and at her pretty dress.
  I've brought you some new milk, but wait awhile,
  And I will put it by the fire to warm,
  For things well fitted for poor folk like us
  Would never please a high-born child like you.

                        THE CHILD
  Old mother, my old mother, the green dawn
  Brightens above while you blow up the fire;
  And evening finds you spreading the white cloth.
  The young may lie in bed and dream and hope,
  But you work on because your heart is old.

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
  The young are idle.

                        THE CHILD
                            Old father, you are wise
  And all the years have gathered in your heart
  To whisper of the wonders that are gone.
  The young must sigh through many a dream and hope,
  But you are wise because your heart is old.

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
  Oh, who would think to find so young a child
  Loving old age and wisdom?

         (BRIDGET _gives her more bread and honey._)

                        THE CHILD
                            No more, mother.

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
  What a small bite! The milk is ready now;
  What a small sip!

                        THE CHILD
  Put on my shoes, old mother,
  For I would like to dance now I have eaten.
  The reeds are dancing by Coolaney lake,
  And I would like to dance until the reeds
  And the white waves have danced themselves to sleep.

    (_Having put on her shoes, she gets off the old man's knees
      and is about to dance, but suddenly sees the crucifix
      and shrieks and covers her eyes._)
  What is that ugly thing on the black cross?

                        FATHER HART
  You cannot know how naughty your words are!
  That is our Blessed Lord!

                        THE CHILD
                            Hide it away!

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
  I have begun to be afraid, again!

                        THE CHILD
  Hide it away!

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
                    That would be wickedness!

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
  That would be sacrilege!

                        THE CHILD
                    The tortured thing!
  Hide it away!

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
                  Her parents are to blame.

                        FATHER HART
  That is the image of the Son of God.

    (THE CHILD _puts her arm around his neck and kisses him._)

                        THE CHILD
  Hide it away! Hide it away!

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
                                        No! no!

                        FATHER HART
  Because you are so young and little a child
  I will go take it down.

                        THE CHILD
                                  Hide it away,
  And cover it out of sight and out of mind.

    (FATHER HART _takes it down and carries it towards the
      inner room._)

                        FATHER HART
  Since you have come into this barony
  I will instruct you in our blessed faith:
  Being a clever child you will soon learn.

                                            (_To the others_)

  We must be tender with all budding things.
  Our Maker let no thought of Calvary
  Trouble the morning stars in their first song.

                      (_Puts the crucifix in the inner room._)

                        THE CHILD
  Here is level ground for dancing. I will dance.
  The wind is blowing on the waving reeds,
  The wind is blowing on the heart of man.

                 (_She dances, swaying about like the reeds._)

                        MAIRE (_to_ SHAWN BRUIN)
  Just now when she came near I thought I heard
  Other small steps beating upon the floor,
  And a faint music blowing in the wind,
  Invisible pipes giving her feet the time.

                        SHAWN BRUIN
  I heard no step but hers.

                        MARIE BRUIN
                            Look to the bolt!
  Because the unholy powers are abroad.

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN (_to_ THE CHILD)
  Come over here, and if you promise me
  Not to talk wickedly of holy things
  I will give you something.

                        THE CHILD
                  Bring it me, old father!

                 (MAURTEEN BRUIN _goes into the next room._)

                        FATHER HART
  I will have queen cakes when you come to me!

    (MAURTEEN BRUIN _returns and lays a piece of money on
      the table._ THE CHILD _makes a gesture of refusal._)

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
  It will buy lots of toys; see how it glitters!

                        THE CHILD
  Come, tell me, do you love me?

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
                                        I love you!

                        THE CHILD
  Ah! but you love this fireside!

                        FATHER HART
                              I love you.
  When the Almighty puts so great a share
  Of His own ageless youth into a creature,
  To look is but to love.

                        THE CHILD
  But you love Him above.

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
                                      She is blaspheming.

                        THE CHILD (_to_ MAIRE)
  And do you love me?

                        MARIE BRUIN
                                    I--I do not know.

                        THE CHILD
  You love that great tall fellow over there:
  Yet I could make you ride upon the winds,
  Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
  And dance upon the mountains like a flame!

                        MARIE BRUIN
  Queen of the Angels and kind Saints, defend us!
  Some dreadful fate has fallen: a while ago
  The wind cried out and took the primroses,
  And she ran by me laughing in the wind,
  And I gave milk and fire, and she came in
  And made you hide the blessed crucifix.

                        FATHER HART
  You fear because of her wild, pretty prattle;
  She knows no better.

                                     (_To_ THE CHILD)

                          Child, how old are you?

                        THE CHILD
  When winter sleep is abroad my hair grows thin,
  My feet unsteady. When the leaves awaken
  My mother carries me in her golden arms.
  I will soon put on my womanhood and marry
  The spirits of wood and water, but who can tell
  When I was born for the first time? I think
  I am much older than the eagle cock
  That blinks and blinks on Ballygawley Hill,
  And he is the oldest thing under the moon.

                        FATHER HART
  She is of the faëry people.

                        THE CHILD
                            I am Brig's daughter.
  I sent my messengers for milk and fire,
  And then I heard one call to me and came.

    (_They all except_ SHAWN _and_ MAIRE BRUIN _gather
      behind the priest for protection._)

                        SHAWN (_rising_)
  Though you have made all these obedient,
  You have not charmed my sight, and won from me
  A wish or gift to make you powerful;
  I'll turn you from the house.

                        FATHER HART
                            No, I will face her.

                        THE CHILD
  Because you took away the crucifix
  I am so mighty that there's none can pass
  Unless I will it, where my feet have danced
  Or where I've twirled my finger tops.

               (SHAWN _tries to approach her and cannot._)

                                      Look, look!
  There something stops him--look how he moves his hands
  As though he rubbed them on a wall of glass.

                        FATHER HART
  I will confront this mighty spirit alone.

                     (_They cling to him and hold him back._)

                        THE CHILD (_while she strews primroses_)
  No one whose heart is heavy with human tears
  Can cross these little cressets of the wood.

                        FATHER HART
  Be not afraid, the Father is with us,
  And all the nine angelic hierarchies,
  The Holy Martyrs and the Innocents,
  The adoring Magi in their coats of mail,
  And He who died and rose on the third day,
  And Mary with her seven times wounded heart.

    (THE CHILD _ceases strewing the primroses, and kneels
      upon the settle beside MAIRE and puts her arms about
      her neck._)

 Cry, daughter, to the Angels and the Saints.

                        THE CHILD
  You shall go with me, newly married bride,
  And gaze upon a merrier multitude;
  White-armed Nuala, Aengus of the birds,
  Feacra of the hurtling foam, and him
  Who is the ruler of the Western Host,
  Finvarra, and their Land of Heart's Desire,
  Where beauty has no ebb, decay no flood,
  But joy is wisdom, Time an endless song.
  I kiss you and the world begins to fade.

                        FATHER HART
  Daughter, I call you unto home and love!

                        THE CHILD
  Stay, and come with me, newly married bride,
  For, if you hear him, you grow like the rest:
  Bear children, cook, be mindful of the churn,
  And wrangle over butter, fowl, and eggs,
  And sit at last there, old and bitter of tongue,
  Watching the white stars war upon your hopes.

  Awake out of that trance, and cover up
  Your eyes and ears.

  She must both look and listen,
  For only the soul's choice can save her now.
  Daughter, I point you out the way to heaven.

                        THE CHILD
  But I can lead you, newly married bride,
  Where nobody gets old and crafty and wise,
  Where nobody gets old and godly and grave,
  Where nobody gets old and bitter of tongue,
  And where kind tongues bring no captivity;
  For we are only true to the far lights
  We follow singing, over valley and hill.

                        FATHER HART
  By the dear name of the one crucified,
  I bid you, Maire Bruin, come to me.

                        THE CHILD
  I keep you in the name of your own heart!

    (_She leaves the settle, and stooping takes up a mass
      of primroses and kisses them._)

  We have great power to-night, dear golden folk,
  For he took down and hid the crucifix.
  And my invisible brethren fill the house;
  I hear their footsteps going up and down.
  Oh, they shall soon rule all the hearts of men
  And own all lands; last night they merrily danced
  About his chapel belfry! (_To_ MAIRE) Come away,
  I hear my brethren bidding us away!

                        FATHER HART
  I will go fetch the crucifix again.

    (_They hang about him in terror and prevent him from

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
  The enchanted flowers will kill us if you go.

                        MAURTEEN BRUIN
  They turn the flowers to little twisted flames.

                        SHAWN BRUIN
  The little twisted flames burn up the heart.

                        THE CHILD
  I hear them crying, "Newly married bride,
  Come to the woods and waters and pale lights."

                        MARIE BRUIN
  I will go with you.

                        FATHER HART
                    She is lost, alas!

                        THE CHILD (_standing by the door_)
  But clinging mortal hope must fall from you:
  For we who ride the winds, run on the waves
  And dance upon the mountains, are more light
  Than dewdrops on the banners of the dawn.

                        MARIE BRUIN
  Oh, take me with you.

                         (SHAWN BRUIN _goes over to her._)

                        SHAWN BRUIN
                            Beloved, do not leave me!
  Remember when I met you by the well
  And took your hand in mine and spoke of love.

                        MARIE BRUIN
  Dear face! Dear voice!

                        THE CHILD
                            Come, newly married bride!

                        MARIE BRUIN
  I always loved her world--and yet--and yet--

                                  (_Sinks into his arms._)

                        THE CHILD (_from the door_)
  White bird, white bird, come with me, little bird.

                        MARIE BRUIN
  She calls to me!

                        THE CHILD
                           Come with me, little bird!

                        MARIE BRUIN
  I can hear songs and dancing!

                        SHAWN BRUIN
                                        Stay with me!

                        MARIE BRUIN
  I think that I would stay--and yet--and yet--

                        THE CHILD
  Come, little bird with crest of gold!

                        MARIE BRUIN (_very softly_)
                                      And yet--

                        THE CHILD
  Come, little bird with silver feet!

                        (MAIRE _dies, and the child goes._)

                        SHAWN BRUIN
                                      She is dead!

                        BRIDGET BRUIN
  Come from that image: body and soul are gone.
  You have thrown your arms about a drift of leaves
  Or bole of an ash tree changed into her image.

                        FATHER HART
  Thus do the spirits of evil snatch their prey
  Almost out of the very hand of God;
  And day by day their power is more and more,
  And men and women leave old paths, for pride
  Comes knocking with thin knuckles on the heart.

                        A VOICE (_singing outside_)
      The wind blows out of the gates of the day,
      The wind blows over the lonely of heart,
      And the lonely of heart is withered away
      While the faëries dance in a place apart,
      Shaking their milk-white feet in a ring,
      Tossing their milk-white arms in the air;
      For they hear the wind laugh and murmur and sing
      Of a land where even the old are fair,
      And even the wise are merry of tongue;
      But I heard a reed of Coolaney say,
      "When the wind has laughed and murmured and sung,
      The lonely of heart is withered away."

    (_The song is taken up by many voices, who sing loudly,
      as if in triumph. Some of the voices seem to come from
      within the house._)



Gordon Bottomley

[Footnote 1: This play is reprinted by permission of and by
arrangement with Constable and Company, Limited, London.]


RANNVEIG, his mother
ODDNY, ASTRID, and STEINVOR, Hallgerd's housewomen
ORMILD, a woman thrall
BIARTEY, JOFRID, and GUDFINN, beggar-women
    his brother, AUNUND, THORGEIB, and HROALD,

TIME: _Iceland, A.D. 990_

SCENE: _The hall of GUNNAR'S house at Lithend in South Iceland.
The portion shewn is set on the stage diagonally, so that to the
right one end is seen, while from the rear corner of this, one
side runs down almost to the left front._

_The side wall is low and wainscoted with carved panelling on
which hang weapons, shields, and coats of mail. In one place a
panel slid aside shews a shut bed._

_In front of the panelling are two long benches with a carved
high-seat between them. Across the end of the hall are similar
panellings and the seats, with corresponding tables, of the
women's dais; behind these and in the gable wall is a high narrow
door with a rounded top._

_A timber roof slopes down to the side wall and is upheld by
cross-beams and two rows of tall pillars which make a rather
narrow nave of the centre of the hall. One of these rows runs
parallel to the side wall, the pair of pillars before the
high-seat being carved and ended with images; of the other row
only two pillars are visible at the extreme right._

_Within this nave is the space for the hearths; but the only
hearth visible is the one near the women's dais. In the roof
above it there is a louvre: the fire glows and no smoke rises.
The hall is lit everywhere by the firelight._

_The rafters over the women's dais carry a floor at the level of
the side walls, forming an open loft which is reached by a wide
ladder fixed against the wall: a bed is seen in this loft. Low in
the roof at intervals are shuttered casements, one being above
the loft: all the shutters are closed. Near the fire a large
shaggy hound is sleeping; and ORMILD, in the undyed woollen dress
of a thrall, is combing wool._

ODDNY _stands spinning at the side; near her_ ASTRID _and_ STEINVOR
_sit stitching a robe which hangs between them._

  Night is a winter long: and evening falls.
  Night, night and winter and the heavy snow
  Burden our eyes, intrude upon our dreams,
  And make of loneliness an earthly place.

  This bragging land of freedom that enthralls me
  Is still the fastness of a secret king
  Who treads the dark like snow, of old king Sleep.
  He works with night, he has stolen death's tool frost
  That makes the breaking wave forget to fall.

  Best mind thy comb-pot and forget our king
  Before the Longcoat helps at thy awaking....
  I like not this forsaken quiet house.
  The housemen out at harvest in the Isles
  Never return. Perhaps they went but now,
  Yet I am sore with fearing and expecting
  Because they do not come. They will not come.
  I like not this forsaken quiet house,
  This late last harvest, and night creeping in.

  I like not dwelling in an outlaw's house.
  Snow shall be heavier upon some eyes
  Than you can tell of--ay, and unseen earth
  Shall keep that snow from filling those poor eyes.
  This void house is more void by brooding things
  That do not happen, than by absent men.
  Sometimes when I awaken in the night
  My throbbing ears are mocking me with rumours
  Of crackling beams, beams falling, and loud flames.

      ASTRID (_pointing to the weapons by the high-seat_)
  The bill that Gunnar won in a far sea-fight
  Sings inwardly when battle impends; as a harp
  Replies to the wind, thus answers it to fierceness,
  So tense its nature is and the spell of its welding;
  Then trust ye well that while the bill is silent
  No danger thickens, for Gunnar dies not singly.

  But women are let forth free when men go burning?

  Fire is a hurrying thing, and fire by night
  Can see its way better than men see theirs.

  The land will not be nobler or more holpen
  If Gunnar burns and we go forth unsinged.
  Why will he break the atonement that was set?
  That wise old Njal who has the second sight
  Foretold his death if he should slay twice over
  In the same kin, or break the atonement set:
  Yet has he done these things and will not care.
  Kolskegg, who kept his back in famous fights,
  Sailed long ago and far away from us
  Because that doom is on him for the slayings;
  Yet Gunnar bides although that doom is on him
  And he is outlawed by defiance of doom.

  Gunnar has seen his death: he is spoken for.
  He would not sail because, when he rode down
  Unto the ship, his horse stumbled and threw him,
  His face toward the Lithe and his own fields.
  Olaf the Peacock bade him be with him
  In his new mighty house so carven and bright,
  And leave this house to Rannveig and his sons:
  He said that would be well, yet never goes.
  Is he not thinking death would ride with him?
  Did not Njal offer to send his sons,
  Skarphedin ugly and brave and Hauskuld with him,
  To hold this house with Gunnar, who refused them,
  Saying he would not lead young men to death?
  I tell you Gunnar is done.... His fetch is out.

  Nay, he's been topmost in so many fights
  That he believes he shall fight on untouched.

  He rides to motes and Things before his foes.
  He has sent his sons harvesting in the Isles.
  He takes deliberate heed of death--to meet it,
  Like those whom Odin needs. He is fey, I tell you--
  And if we are past the foolish ardour of girls
  For heroisms and profitless loftiness
  We shall get gone when bedtime clears the house.
  'T is much to have to be a hero's wife,
  And I shall wonder if Hallgerd cares about it:
  Yet she may kindle to it ere my heart quickens.
  I tell you, women, we have no duty here:
  Let us get gone to-night while there is time,
  And find new harbouring ere the laggard dawn,
  For death is making narrowing passages
  About this hushed and terrifying house.

  (RANNVEIG, _an old wimpled woman, enters as if from a door at the
  unseen end of the hall._)

  He is so great and manly, our master Gunnar,
  There are not many ready to meet his weapons:
  And so there may not be much need of weapons.
  He is so noble and clear, so swift and tender,
  So much of Iceland's fame in foreign places,
  That too many love him, too many honour him
  To let him die, lest the most gleaming glory
  Of our grey country should be there put out.

  Girl, girl, my son has many enemies
  Who will not lose the joy of hurting him.
  This little land is no more than a lair
  That holds too many fiercenesses too straitly,
  And no man will refuse the rapture of killing
  When outlawry has made it cheap and righteous.
  So long as anyone perceives he knows
  A bare place for a weapon on my son
  His hand shall twitch to fit a weapon in.
  Indeed he shall lose nothing but his life
  Because a woman is made so evil fair,
  Wasteful and white and proud in harmful acts.
  I lose two sons when Gunnar's eyes are still,
  For then will Kolskegg never more turn home....
  If Gunnar would but sail, three years would pass;
  Only three years of banishment said the doom--
  So few, so few, for I can last ten years
  With this unshrunken body and steady heart.

  (_To_ ORMILD)

  Have I sat down in comfort by the fire
  And waited to be told the thing I knew?
  Have any men come home to the young women,
  Thinking old women do not need to hear,
  That you can play at being a bower-maid
  In a long gown although no beasts are foddered?
  Up, lass, and get thy coats about thy knees,
  For we must cleanse the byre and heap the midden
  Before the master knows--or he will go,
  And there is peril for him in every darkness.

      ORMILD (_tucking up her skirts_)
  Then are we out of peril in the darkness?
  We should do better to nail up the doors
  Each night and all night long and sleep through it,
  Giving the cattle meat and straw by day.

  Ay, and the hungry cattle should sing us to sleep.

(_The others laugh. ORMILD goes out to the left_; RANNVEIG _is
following her, but pauses at the sound of a voice._)

      HALLGERD (_beyond the door of the women's dais_)
  Dead men have told me I was better than fair,
  And for my face welcomed the danger of me:
  Then am I spent?

  (_She enters angrily, looking backward through the doorway._)

  Must I shut fast my doors
  And hide myself? Must I wear up the rags
  Of mortal perished beauty and be old?
  Or is there power left upon my mouth
  Like colour, and lilting of ruin in my eyes?
  Am I still rare enough to be your mate?
  Then why must I shame at feasts and bear myself
  In shy ungainly ways, made flushed and conscious
  By squat numb gestures of my shapeless head--
  Ay, and its wagging shadow--clouted up,
  Twice tangled with a bundle of hot hair,
  Like a thick cot-quean's in the settling time?
  There are few women in the Quarter now
  Who do not wear a shapely fine-webbed coif
  Stitched by dark Irish girls in Athcliath
  With golden flies and pearls and glinting things:
  Even my daughter lets her big locks show,
  Show and half show, from a hood gentle and close
  That spans her little head like her husband's hand.

      GUNNAR (_entering by the same door_)
  I like you when you bear your head so high;
  Lift but your heart as high, you could get crowned
  And rule a kingdom of impossible things.
  You would have moon and sun to shine together,
  Snowflakes to knit for apples on bare boughs,
  Yea, love to thrive upon the terms of hate.
  If I had fared abroad I should have found
  In many countries many marvels for you--
  Though not more comeliness in peopled Romeborg
  And not more haughtiness in Mickligarth
  Nor craftiness in all the isles of the world,
  And only golden coifs in Athcliath:
  Yet you were ardent that I should not sail,
  And when I could not sail you laughed out loud
  And kissed me home....

      HALLGERD (_who has been biting her nails_)
  And then ... and doubtless ... and strangely ...
  And not more thriftiness in Bergthorsknoll
  Where Njal saves old soft sackcloth for his wife.
  Oh, I must sit with peasants and aged women,
  And keep my head wrapped modestly and seemly.

  (_She turns to_ RANNVEIG.)

  I must be humble--as one who lives on others.

  (_She snatches off her wimple, slipping her gold circlet as she
  does so, and loosens her hair._)

  Unless I may be hooded delicately
  And use the adornment noble women use
  I'll mock you with my flown young widowhood,
  Letting my hair go loose past either cheek
  In two bright clouds and drop beyond my bosom,
  Turning the waving ends under my girdle
  As young glad widows do, and as I did
  Ere ever you saw me--ay, and when you found me
  And met me as a king meets a queen
  In the undying light of a summer night
  With burning robes and glances--stirring the heart with scarlet.

  (_She tucks the long ends of her hair under her girdle._)

  You have cast the head-ring of the nobly nurtured,
  Being eager for a bold uncovered head.
  You are conversant with a widow's fancies....
  Ay, you are ready with your widowhood:
  Two men have had you, chilled their bosoms with you,
  And trusted that they held a precious thing--
  Yet your mean passionate wastefulness poured out
  Their lives for joy of seeing something done with.
  Cannot you wait this time? 'Twill not be long.

  I am a hazardous desirable thing,
  A warm unsounded peril, a flashing mischief,
  A divine malice, a disquieting voice:
  Thus I was shapen, and it is my pride
  To nourish all the fires that mingled me.
  I am not long moved, I do not mar my face,
  Though men have sunk in me as in a quicksand.
  Well, death is terrible. Was I not worth it?
  Does not the light change on me as I breathe?
  Could I not take the hearts of generations,
  Walking among their dreams? Oh, I have might,
  Although it drives me too and is not my own deed....
  And Gunnar is great, or he had died long since.
  It is my joy that Gunnar stays with me:
  Indeed the offence is theirs who hunted him,
  His banishment is not just; his wrongs increase,
  His honour and his following shall increase
  If he is steadfast for his blamelessness.

  Law is not justice, but the sacrifice
  Of singular virtues to the dull world's ease of mind;
  It measures men by the most vicious men;
  It is a bargaining with vanities,
  Lest too much right should make men hate each other
  And hasten the last battle of all the nations.
  Gunnar should have kept the atonement set,
  For then those men would turn to other quarrels.

  I know not why it is I must be fighting,
  For ever fighting, when the slaying of men
  Is a more weary and aimless thing to me
  Than most men think it ... and most women too.
  There is a woman here who grieves she loves me,
  And she too must be fighting me for ever
  With her dim ravenous unsated mind....
  Ay, Hallgerd, there's that in her which desires
  Men to fight on for ever because she lives:
  When she took form she did it like a hunger
  To nibble earth's lip away until the sea
  Poured down the darkness. Why then should I sail
  Upon a voyage that can end but here?
  She means that I shall fight until I die:
  Why must she be put off by whittled years,
  When none can die until his time has come?

  (_He turns to the hound by the fire._)

  Samm, drowsy friend, dost scent a prey in dreams?
  Shake off thy shag of sleep and get to thy watch:
  'Tis time to be our eyes till the next light.
  Out, out to the yard, good Samm.

  (_He goes to the left, followed by the hound. In the meantime_
  HALLGERD _has seated herself in the high-seat near the sewing
  women, turning herself away and tugging at a strand of her hair,
  the end of which she bites._)

      RANNVEIG (_intercepting him_)
  Nay, let me take him.
  It is not safe--there may be men who hide....
  Hallgerd, look up; call Gunnar to you there:

  (HALLGERD _is motionless._)
  Lad, she beckons. I say you shall not come.

      GUNNAR (_laughing_)
  Fierce woman, teach me to be brave in age,
  And let us see if it is safe for you.

  (_Leads_ RANNVEIG _out, his hand on her shoulder; the hound goes
  with them._)

  Mistress, my heart is big with mutinies
  For your proud sake: does not your heart mount up?
  He is an outlaw now and could not hold you
  If you should choose to leave him. Is it not law?
  Is it not law that you could loose this marriage--
  Nay, that he loosed it shamefully years ago
  By a hard blow that bruised your innocent cheek,
  Dishonouring you to lesser women and chiefs?
  See, it burns up again at the stroke of thought.
  Come, leave him, mistress; we will go with you.
  There is no woman in the country now
  Whose name can kindle men as yours can do--
  Ay, many would pile for you the silks he grudges;
  And if you did withdraw your potent presence
  Fire would not spare this house so reverently.

  Am I a wandering flame that sears and passes?
  We must bide here, good Steinvor, and be quiet.
  Without a man a woman cannot rule,
  Nor kill without a knife; and where's the man
  That I shall put before this goodly Gunnar?
  I will not be made less by a less man.
  There is no man so great as my man Gunnar:
  I have set men at him to show forth his might;
  I have planned thefts and breakings of his word
  When my pent heart grew sore with fermentation
  Of malice too long undone, yet could not stir him.
  Oh, I will make a battle of the Thing,
  Where men vow holy peace, to magnify him.
  Is it not rare to sit and wait o' nights,
  Knowing that murderousness may even now
  Be coming down outside like second darkness
  Because my man is greater?

      STEINVOR (_shuddering_)
  Is it not rare.

  That blow upon the face
  So long ago is best not spoken of.
  I drave a thrall to steal and burn at Otkell's
  Who would not sell to us in famine time
  But denied Gunnar as if he were suppliant:
  Then at our feast when men rode from the Thing
  I spread the stolen food and Gunnar knew.
  He smote me upon the face--indeed he smote me.
  Oh, Gunnar smote me and had shame of me
  And said he'd not partake with any thief;
  Although I stole to injure his despiser....
  But if he had abandoned me as well
  'Tis I who should have been unmated now;
  For many men would soon have judged me thief
  And shut me from this land until I died--
  And then I should have lost him. Yet he smote me--

  He kept you his--yea, and maybe saved you
  From a debasement that could madden or kill,
  For women thieves ere now have felt a knife
  Severing ear or nose. And yet the feud
  You sowed with Otkell's house shall murder Gunnar.
  Otkell was slain: then Gunnar's enviers,
  Who could not crush him under his own horse
  At the big horse-fight, stirred up Otkell's son
  To avenge his father; for should he be slain
  Two in one stock would prove old Njal's foretelling,
  And Gunnar's place be emptied either way
  For those high helpless men who cannot fill it.
  O mistress, you have hurt us all in this:
  You have cut off your strength, you have maimed yourself,
  You are losing power and worship and men's trust.
  When Gunnar dies no other man dare take you.

  You gather poison in your mouth for me.
  A high-born woman may handle what she fancies
  Without being ear-pruned like a pilfering beggar.
  Look to your ears if you touch ought of mine:
  Ay, you shall join the mumping sisterhood
  And tramp and learn your difference from me.

  (_She turns from_ ASTRID.)

  Steinvor, I have remembered the great veil,
  The woven cloud, the tissue of gold and garlands,
  That Gunnar took from some outlandish ship
  And thinks was made in Greekland or in Hind:
  Fetch it from the ambry in the bower.

  (STEINVOR _goes out by the dais door._)

  Mistress, indeed you are a cherished woman.
  That veil is worth a lifetime's weight of coifs:
  I have heard a queen offered her daughter for it,
  But Gunnar said it should come home and wait--
  And then gave it to you. The half of Iceland
  Tells fabulous legends of a fabulous thing,
  Yet never saw it: I know they never saw it,
  For ere it reached the ambry I came on it
  Tumbled in the loft with ragged kirtles.

  What, are you there again? Let Gunnar alone.

  (STEINVOR _enters with the veil folded._ HALLGERD _takes
  it with one hand and shakes it into a heap._)

  This is the cloth. He brought it out at night,
  In the first hour that we were left together,
  And begged of me to wear it at high feasts
  And more outshine all women of my time:
  He shaped it to my head with my gold circlet,
  Saying my hair smouldered like Rhine-fire through,
  He let it fall about my neck, and fall
  About my shoulders, mingle with my skirts,
  And billow in the draught along the floor.

  (_She rises and holds the veil behind her head._)

  I know I dazzled as if I entered in
  And walked upon a windy sunset and drank it,
  Yet must I stammer with such strange uncouthness
  And tear it from me, tangling my arms in it.
  Why should I so befool myself and seem
  A laughable bundle in each woman's eyes,
  Wearing such things as no one ever wore,
  Useless ... no head-cloth ... too unlike my fellows.
  Yet he turns miser for a tiny coif.
  It would cut into many golden coifs
  And dim some women in their Irish clouts--
  But no; I'll shape and stitch it into shifts,
  Smirch it like linen, patch it with rags, to watch
  His silent anger when he sees my answer.
  Give me thy shears, girl Oddny.

  You'll not part it?

  I'll shorten it.

  I have no shears with me.

  No matter; I can start it with my teeth
  And tear it down the folds. So. So. So. So.
  Here's a fine shift for summer: and another.
  I'll find my shears and chop out waists and neck-holes.
  Ay, Gunnar, Gunnar!

  (_She throws the tissue on the ground, and goes out by
  the dais door._)

      ODDNY (_lifting one of the pieces_)
  O me! A wonder has vanished.

  What is a wonder less? She has done finely,
  Setting her worth above dead marvels and shows.

  (_The deep menacing baying of the hound is heard near
  at hand. A woman's cry follows it._)

  They come, they come! Let us flee by the bower!

  (_Starting up, she stumbles in the tissue and sinks upon it. The
  others rise._)

  You are leaving me--will you not wait for me--
  Take, take me with you.

  (_Mingled cries of women are heard._)

      GUNNAR (_outside_)
  Samm, it is well: be still.
  Women, be quiet; loose me; get from my feet,
  Or I will have the hound to wipe me clear.

      STEINVOR (_recovering herself_)
  Women are sent to spy.

  (_The sound of a door being opened is heard. GUNNAR enters from
  the left, followed by three beggar-women, BIARTEY, JOFRID, and
  GUDFINN. They hobble and limp, and are swathed in shapeless,
  nameless rags which trail about their feet; BIARTEY'S left sleeve
  is torn completely away, leaving her arm bare and mud-smeared;
  the others' skirts are torn, and JOFRID'S gown at the neck;
  GUDFINN wears a felt hood buttoned under her chin; the others'
  faces are almost hid in falling tangles of grey hair. Their faces
  are shriveled and weather-beaten, and BIARTEY'S mouth is
  distorted by two front teeth that project like tusks._)

  Get in to the light.
  Yea, has he mouthed ye?... What men send ye here?
  Who are ye? Whence come ye? What do ye seek?
  I think no mother ever suckled you:
  You must have dragged your roots up in waste places
  One foot at once, or heaved a shoulder up--

      BIARTEY (_interrupting him_)
  Out of the bosoms of cairns and standing stones.
  I am Biartey: she is Jofrid: she is Gudfinn:
  We are lone women known to no man now.
  We are not sent: we come.

  Well, you come.
  You appear by night, rising under my eyes
  Like marshy breath or shadows on the wall;
  Yet the hound scented you like any evil
  That feels upon the night for a way out.
  And do you, then, indeed wend alone?
  Came you from the West or the sky-covering North
  Yet saw no thin steel moving in the dark?

  Not West, not North: we slept upon the East,
  Arising in the East where no men dwell.
  We have abided in the mountain places,
  Chanted our woes among the black rocks crouching.

  (GUDFINN _joins her in a sing-song utterance._)
  From the East, from the East we drove and the wind waved us,
  Over the heaths, over the barren ashes.
  We are old, our eyes are old, and the light hurts us,
  We have skins on our eyes that part alone to the star-light.
  We stumble about the night, the rocks tremble
  Beneath our trembling feet; black sky thickens,
  Breaks into clots, and lets the moon upon us.

  (JOFRID _joins her voice to the voices of the other two._)
  Far from the men who fear us, men who stone us,
  Hiding, hiding, flying whene'er they slumber,
  High on the crags we pause, over the moon-gulfs;
  Black clouds fall and leave us up in the moon-depths
  Where wind flaps our hair and cloaks like fin-webs,
  Ay, and our sleeves that toss with our arms and the cadence
  Of quavering crying among the threatening echoes.
  Then we spread our cloaks and leap down the rock-stairs,
  Sweeping the heaths with our skirts, greying the dew-bloom,
  Until we feel a pool on the wide dew stretches
  Stilled by the moon or ruffling like breast-feathers,
  And, with grey sleeves cheating the sleepy herons,
  Squat among them, pillow us there and sleep.
  But in the harder wastes we stand upright,
  Like splintered rain-worn boulders set to the wind
  In old confederacy, and rest and sleep.

  (HALLGERD'S _women are huddled together and clasping each other._)

  What can these women be who sleep like horses,
  Standing up in the darkness? What will they do?

  Ye wail like ravens and have no human thoughts.
  What do ye seek? What will ye here with us?

      BIARTEY (_as all three cower suddenly_)
   Succour upon this terrible journeying.
  We have a message for a man in the West,
  Sent by an old man sitting in the East.
  We are spent, our feet are moving wounds, our bodies
  Dream of themselves and seem to trail behind us
  Because we went unfed down in the mountains.
  Feed us and shelter us beneath your roof,
  And put us over the Markfleet, over the channels.
  We are weak old women: we are beseeching you.

  You may bide here this night, but on the morrow
  You shall go over, for tramping shameless women
  Carry too many tales from stead to stead--
  And sometimes heavier gear than breath and lies.
  These women will tell the mistress all I grant you;
  Get to the fire until she shall return.

  Thou art a merciful man and we shall thank thee.

  (GUNNAR _goes out again to the left. The old women approach the
  young ones gradually._)
  Little ones, do not doubt us. Could we hurt you?
  Because we are ugly must we be bewitched?

  Nay, but bewitch us.

  Not in a litten house:
  Not ere the hour when night turns on itself
  And shakes the silence: not while ye wake together.
  Sweet voice, tell us, was that verily Gunnar?

  Arrh--do not touch me, unclean flyer-by-night:
  Have ye birds' feet to match such bat-webbed fingers?

  I am only a cowed curst woman who walks with death;
  I will crouch here. Tell us, was it Gunnar?

  Yea, Gunnar surely. Is he not big enough
  To fit the songs about him?

                              He is a man.
  Why will his manhood urge him to be dead?
  We walk about the whole old land at night,
  We enter many dales and many halls:
  And everywhere is talk of Gunnar's greatness,
  His slayings and his fate outside the law.
  The last ship has not gone: why will he tarry?

  He chose a ship, but men who rode with him
  Say that his horse threw him upon the shore,
  His face toward the Lithe and his own fields;
  As he arose he trembled at what he gazed on
  (_Although those men saw nothing pass or meet them_)
  And said ... What said he, girls?

                                   "Fair is the Lithe:
  I never thought it was so far, so fair.
  Its corn is white, its meadows green after mowing.
  I will ride home again and never leave it."

  'Tis an unlikely tale: he never said it.
  No one could mind such things in such an hour.
  Plainly he saw his fetch come down the sands,
  And knew he need not seek another country
  And take that with him to walk upon the deck
  In night and storm.

                    He, he, he! No man speaks thus.

  No man, no man: he must be doomed somewhere.

  Doomed and fey, my sisters.... We are too old,
  Yet I'd not marvel if we outlasted him.
  Sisters, that is a fair fierce girl who spins....
  My fair fierce girl, you could fight--but can you ride?
  Would you not shout to be riding in a storm?
  Ah--h, girls learnt riding well when I was a girl,
  And foam rides on the breakers as I was taught....
  My fair fierce girl, tell me your noble name.

  My name is Oddny.

  Oddny, when you are old
  Would you not be proud to be no man's purse-string,
  But wild and wandering and friends with the earth?
  Wander with us and learn to be old yet living.
  We'd win fine food with you to beg for us.

  Despised, cast out, unclean, and loose men's night-bird.

  When I am old I shall be some man's friend,
  And hold him when the darkness comes....

  And mumble by the fire and blink....
  Good Oddny, let me spin for you awhile,
  That Gunnar's house may profit by his guesting:
  Come, trust me with your distaff....

                                     Are there spells
  Wrought on a distaff?

                             Only by the Norns,
  And they'll not sit with human folk to-night.

  Then you may spin all night for what I care;
  But let the yarn run clean from knots and snarls,
  Or I shall have the blame when you are gone.

      BIARTEY (_taking the distaff_)
  Trust well the aged knowledge of my hands;
  Thin and thin do I spin, and the thread draws finer.

  (_She sings as she spins._)

          They go by three.
          And the moon shivers;
          The tired waves flee,
          The hidden rivers
          Also flee.

          I take three strands;
          There is one for her,
          One for my hands,
          And one to stir
          For another's hands.

          I twine them thinner,
          The dead wool doubts;
          The outer is inner,
          The core slips out....

  (HALLGERD _reënters by the dais door, holding a pair of shears._)

  What are these women, Oddny? Who let them in?

      BIARTEY (_who spins through all that follows_)
  Lady, the man of fame who is your man
  Gave us his peace to-night, and that of his house.
  We are blown beggars tramping about the land,
  Denied a home for our evil and vagrant hearts;
  We sought this shelter when the first dew soaked us,
  And should have perished by the giant hound
  But Gunnar fought it with his eyes and saved us.
  That is a strange hound, with a man's mind in it.

      HALLGERD (_seating herself in the high-seat_)
  It is an Irish hound, from that strange soil
  Where men by day walk with unearthly eyes
  And cross the veils of the air, and are not men
  But fierce abstractions eating their own hearts
  Impatiently and seeing too much to be joyful.
  If Gunnar welcomed ye, ye may remain.

  She is a fair free lady, is she not?
  But that was to be looked for in a high one
  Who counts among her fathers the bright Sigurd,
  The bane of Fafnir the Worm, the end of the god-kings;
  Among her mothers Brynhild, the lass of Odin,
  The maddener of swords, the night-clouds' rider.
  She has kept sweet that father's lore of bird-speech,
  She wears that mother's power to cheat a god.
  Sisters, she does well to be proud.

                        JOFRID and GUDFINN
                                           Ay, well.

      HALLGERD (_shaping the tissue with her shears_)
  I need no witch to tell I am of rare seed,
  Nor measure my pride nor praise it. Do I not know?
  Old women, ye are welcomed: sit with us,
  And while we stitch tell us what gossip runs--
  But if strife might be warmed by spreading it.

  Lady, we are hungered; we were lost
  All night among the mountains of the East;
  Clouds of the cliffs come down my eyes again.
  I pray you let some thrall bring us to food.

  Ye get nought here. The supper is long over;
  The women shall not let ye know the food-house,
  Or ye'll be thieving in the night. Ye are idle,
  Ye suck a man's house bare and seek another.
  'Tis bed-time; get to sleep--that stills much hunger.

  Now it is easy to be seeing what spoils you.
  You were not grasping or ought but over warm
  When Sigmund, Gunnar's kinsman, guested here.
  You followed him, you were too kind with him,
  You lavished Gunnar's treasure and gear on him
  To draw him on, and did not call that thieving.
  Ay, Sigmund took your feuds on him and died
  As Gunnar shall. Men have much harm by you.

  Now have I gashed the golden cloth awry:
  'Tis ended--a ruin of clouts--the worth of the gift--
  Bridal dish-clouts--nay, a bundle of flame
  I'll burn it to a breath of its old queen's ashes:
  Fire, O fire, drink up.

  (_She throws the shreds of the veil on the glowing embers: they
  waft to ashes with a brief high flare. She goes to_ JOFRID.)

                          There's one of you
  That holds her head in a bird's sideways fashion:
  I know that reach o' the chin.--What's under thy hair?--

  (_She fixes JOFRID with her knee, and lifts her hair._)

  Pfui,'tis not hair, but sopped and rotting moss--
  A thief, a thief indeed.--And twice a thief.
  She has no ears. Keep thy hooked fingers still
  While thou art here, for if I miss a mouthful
  Thou shalt miss all thy nose. Get up, get up;
  I'll lodge ye with the mares.

      JOFRID (_starting up_)
                                Three men, three men,
  Three men have wived you, and for all you gave them
  Paid with three blows upon a cheek once kissed--
  To every man a blow--and the last blow
  All the land knows was won by thieving food....
  Yea, Gunnar is ended by the theft and the thief.
  Is it not told that when you first grew tall,
  A false rare girl, Hrut your own kinsman said,
  "I know not whence thief's eyes entered our blood."
  You have more ears, yet are you not my sister?
  Our evil vagrant heart is deeper in you.

      HALLGERD (_snatching the distaff from_ BIARTEY)
  Out and be gone, be gone. Lie with the mountains,
  Smother among the thunder; stale dew mould you.
  Outstrip the hound, or he shall so embrace you....

  Now is all done ... all done ... and all your deed.
  She broke the thread, and it shall not join again.
  Spindle, spindle, the coiling weft shall dwindle;
  Leap on the fire and burn, for all is done.

  (_She casts the spindle upon the fire, and stretches her hands
  toward it._)

      HALLGERD (_attacking them with the distaff_)
  Into the night.... Dissolve....

      BIARTEY (_as the three rush toward the door_)
                                      Sisters, away:
  Leave the woman to her smouldering beauty,
  Leave the fire that's kinder than the woman,
  Leave the roof-tree ere it falls. It falls.

  (GUDFINN _joins her. Each time_ HALLGERD _flags they turn as they
  chant, and point at her._)
  We shall cry no more in the high rock-places,
  We are gone from the night, the winds and the clouds are empty:
  Soon the man in the West shall receive our message.

  (JOFRID'S _voice joins the other voices._)

  Men reject us, yet their house is unstable.
  The slayers' hands are warm--the sound of their riding
  Reached us down the ages, ever approaching.

      HALLGERD (_at the same time, her voice high over theirs_)
  Pack, ye rag-heaps--or I'll unravel you.

      THE THREE (_continuously_)
  House that spurns us, woe shall come upon you:
  Death shall hollow you. Now we curse the woman--
  May all the woes smite her till she can feel them.
  Shall we not roost in her bower yet? Woe! Woe!

  (_The distaff breaks, and HALLGERD drives them out with her hands.
  Their voices continue for a moment outside, dying away._)

  Call to the owl-friends.... Woe! Woe! Woe!

  Whence came these mounds of dread to haunt the night?
  It doubles this disquiet to have them near us.

  They must be witches--and it was my distaff--
  Will fire eat through me....

                                   Or the Norns themselves.

  Or bad old women used to govern by fear.
  To bed, to bed--we are all up too late.

      STEINVOR (_as she turns with ASTRID and ODDNY to the dais_)
   If beds are made for sleep we might sit long.

  (_They go out by the dais door._)

      GUNNAR (_as he enters hastily from the left_)
  Where are those women? There's some secret in them:
  I have heard such others crying down to them.

  They turned foul-mouthed, they beckoned evil toward us--
  I drove them forth a breath ago.

                              Forth? Whence?

  By the great door: they cried about the night.

  (RANNVEIG _follows_ GUNNAR _in._)

  Nay, but I entered there and passed them not.
  Mother, where are the women?

                         I saw none come.

  They have not come, they have gone.

                                       I crossed the yard,
  Hearing a noise, but a big bird dropped past,
  Beating my eyes; and then the yard was clear.

  (_The deep baying of the hound is heard again._)

  They must be spies: yonder is news of them.
  The wise hound knew them, and knew them again.

  (_The baying is succeeded by one mid howl._)

                                      Nay, nay!
  Men treat thee sorely, Samm my fosterling:
  Even by death thou warnest--but it is meant
  That our two deaths will not be far apart.

  Think you that men are yonder?

                                       Men are yonder.

  My son, my son, get on the rattling war-woof,
  The old grey shift of Odin, the hide of steel.
  Handle the snake with edges, the fang of the rings.

      GUNNAR (_going to the weapons by the high-seat_)
  There are not enough moments to get under
  That heavy fleece: an iron hat must serve.

  O brave! O brave!--he'll dare them with no shield.

      GUNNAR (_lifting down the great bill_)
  Let me but reach this haft, I shall get hold
  Of steel enough to fence me all about.

  (_He shakes the bill above his head: a deep resonant humming

  _The dais door is thrown open, and_ ODDNY, ASTRID, _and_ STEINVOR
  _stream through in their night-clothes._)

  The bill!

                        The bill is singing!

                                                   The bill sings!

      GUNNAR (_shaking the bill again_)
  Ay, brain-biter, waken.... Awake and whisper
  Out of the throat of dread thy one brief burden.
  Blind art thou, and thy kiss will do no choosing:
  Worn art thou to a hair's grey edge, a nothing
  That slips through all it finds, seeking more nothing.
  There is a time, brain-biter, a time that comes
  When there shall be much quietness for thee:
  Men will be still about thee. I shall know.
  It is not yet: the wind shall hiss at thee first.
  Ahui! Leap up, brain-biter; sing again.
  Sing! Sing thy verse of anger and feel my hands.

  Stand thou, my Gunnar, in the porch to meet them,
  And the great door shall keep thy back for thee.

  I had a brother there. Brother, where are you....

  Nay, nay. Get thou, my Gunnar, to the loft,
  Stand at the casement, watch them how they come.
  Arrows maybe could drop on them from there.

  'Tis good: the woman's cunning for once is faithful.

      GUNNAR (_turning again to the weapons_)
  'Tis good, for now I hear a foot that stumbles
  Along the stable-roof against the hall.
  My bow--where is my bow? Here with its arrows....
  Go in again, you women on the dais,
  And listen at the casement of the bower
  For men who cross the yard, and for their words.

  O Gunnar, we shall serve you.

  (ASTRID, ODDNY, _and_ STEINVOR _go out by the dais door._)

                                  Hallgerd, come;
  We must shut fast the door, bar the great door,
  Or they'll be in on us and murder him.

  Not I: I'd rather set the door wide open
  And watch my Gunnar kindling at the peril,
  Keeping them back--shaming men for ever
  Who could not enter at a gaping door.

  Bar the great door, I say, or I will bar it--
  Door of the house you rule.... Son, son, command it.

      GUNNAR (_as he ascends to the loft_)
  O spendthrift fire, do you waft up again?
  Hallgerd, what riot of ruinous chance will sate you?...
  Let the door stand, my mother: it is her way.

  (_He looks out at the casement._)
  Here's a red kirtle on the lower roof.

  (_He thrusts with the bill through the casement._)

      A MAN'S VOICE (_far off_)
  Is Gunnar within?

    THORGRIM THE EASTERLING'S VOICE (_near the casement_)
                        Find that out for yourselves:
  I am only sure his bill is yet within.

  (_A noise of falling is heard._)

  The Easterling from Sandgil might be dying--
  He has gone down the roof, yet no feet helped him.

  (_A shouting of many men is heard: GUNNAR starts back from the
  casement as several arrows fly in._)

  Now there are black flies biting before a storm.
  I see men gathering beneath the cart-shed:
  Gizur the White and Geir the priest are there,
  And a lean whispering shape that should be Mord.
  I have a sting for some one--

  (_He looses an arrow: a distant cry follows._)

                                    Valgard's voice....
  A shaft of theirs is lying on the roof;
  I'll send it back, for if it should take root
  A hurt from their own spent and worthless weapon
  Would put a scorn upon their tale for ever.

  (_He leans out for the arrow._)

  Do not, my son: rouse them not up again
  When they are slackening in their attack.

  Shoot, shoot it out, and I'll come up to mock them.

      GUNNAR (_loosing the arrow_)
  Hoia! Swerve down upon them, little hawk.

  (_A shout follows._)

  Now they run all together round one man:
  Now they murmur....

                        A VOICE
                            Close in, lift bows again:
  He has no shafts, for this is one of ours.

  (_Arrows fly in at the casement._)

  Wife, here is something in my arm at last:
  The head is twisted--I must cut it clear.

  (STEINVOR _throws open the dais door and rushes through with a
  high shriek._)

  Woman, let us out--help us out--
  The burning comes--they are calling out for fire.

  (_She shrieks again. ODDNY and ASTRID, who have come behind her,
  muffle her head in a kirtle and lift her._)

      ASTRID (_turning as they bear her out_)
  Fire suffuses only her cloudy brain:
  The flare she walks in is on the other side
  Of her shot eyes. We heard a passionate voice,
  A shrill unwomanish voice that must be Mord,
  With "Let us burn him--burn him house and all."
  And then a grave and trembling voice replied,
  "Although my life hung on it, it shall not be."
  Again the cunning fanatic voice went on
  "I say the house must burn above his head."
  And the unlifted voice, "Why wilt thou speak
  Of what none wishes: it shall never be."

  (ASTRID _and_ ODDNY _disappear with_ STEINVOR.)

  To fight with honest men is worth much friendship:
  I'll strive with them again.

  (_He lifts his bow and loosens arrows at intervals while_
  HALLGERD _and_ RANNVEIG _speak._)

    HALLGERD (_in an undertone to_ RANNVEIG, _looking out meanwhile
      to the left_)
                              Mother, come here--
  Come here and hearken. Is there not a foot,
  A stealthy step, a fumbling on the latch
  Of the great door? They come, they come, old mother:
  Are you not blithe and thirsty, knowing they come
  And cannot be held back? Watch and be secret,
  To feel things pass that cannot be undone.

  It is the latch. Cry out, cry out for Gunnar,
  And bring him from the loft.

                                Oh, never:
  For then they'd swarm upon him from the roof.
  Leave him up there and he can bay both armies,
  While the whole dance goes merrily before us
  And we can warm our hearts at such a flare.

    RANNVEIG (_turning both ways, while HALLGERD watches her gleefully_)
  Gunnar, my son, my son! What shall I do?

  (ORMILD _enters from the left, white and with her hand to her
  side, and walking as one sick._)

  Bah--here's a bleached assault....

                                      Oh, lonesome thing,
  To be forgot and left in such a night.
  What is there now--are terrors surging still?

  I know not what has gone: when the men came
  I hid in the far cowhouse. I think I swooned....
  And then I followed the shadow. Who is dead?

  Go to the bower: the women will care for you.

  (ORMILD _totters up the hall from pillar to pillar._)

      ASTRID (_entering by the dais door_)
  Now they have found the weather-ropes and lashed them
  Over the carven ends of the beams outside:
  They bear on them, they tighten them with levers,
  And soon they'll tear the high roof off the hall.

  Get back and bolt the women into the bower.

  (ASTRID _takes_ ORMILD, _who has just reached her, and goes out with
  her by the dais door, which closes after them._)

  Hallgerd, go in: I shall be here thereafter.

  I will not stir. Your mother had best go in.

  How shall I stir?

      VOICES (_outside and gathering volume_)
        Ai.... Ai.... Reach harder.... Ai....

  Stand clear, stand clear--it moves.

                          It moves.... Ai, ai....

  (_The whole roof slides down rumblingly, disappearing with a crash
  behind the watt of the house. All is dark above. Fine snow sifts
  down now and then to the end of the play._)

      GUNNAR (_handling his bow_)
  The wind has changed: 'tis coming on to snow.
  The harvesters will hurry in to-morrow.

  (THORBRAND THORLEIKSSON _appears above the wall-top a little past_
  GUNNAR, _and, reaching noiselessly with a sword, cuts_ GUNNAR'S

      GUNNAR (_dropping the bow and seizing his bill_)
  Ay, Thorbrand, is it thou? That's a rare blade,
  To shear through hemp and gut.... Let your wife have it
  For snipping needle-yarn; or try it again.

      THORBRAND (_raising his sword_)
  I must be getting back ere the snow thickens:
  So here's my message to the end--or farther.
  Gunnar, this night it is time to start your journey
  And get you out of Iceland....

      GUNNAR (_thrusting at THORBRAND with the bill_)
                                     I think it is:
  So you shall go before me in the dark.
  Wait for me when you find a quiet shelter.

  (THORBRAND _sinks backward from the wall and is heard to fall
  farther. Immediately_ ASBRAND THORLEIKSSON _starts up in his

      ASBRAND (_striking repeatedly with a sword_)
  Oh, down, down, down!

      GUNNAR (_parrying the blows with the bill_)
                          Ay, Asbrand, thou as well?
  Thy brother Thorbrand was up here but now:
  He has gone back the other way, maybe--
  Be hasty, or you'll not come up with him.

  (_He thrusts with the bill_: ASBRAND _lifts a shield before the

  Here's the first shield that I have seen to-night.

  (_The bill pierces the shield_: ASBRAND _disappears and is heard to
  fall._ GUNNAR _turns from the casement._)

  Hallgerd, my harp that had but one long string,
  But one low song, but one brief wingy flight,
  Is voiceless, for my bowstring is cut off.
  Sever two locks of hair for my sake now,
  Spoil those bright coils of power, give me your hair,
  And with my mother twist those locks together
  Into a bowstring for me. Fierce small head,
  Thy stinging tresses shall scourge men forth by me.

  Does ought lie on it?

  Nought but my life lies on it;
  For they will never dare to close on me
  If I can keep my bow bended and singing.

      HALLGERD (_tossing back her hair_)
  Then now I call to your mind that bygone blow
  You gave my face; and never a whit do I care
  If you hold out a long time or a short.

  Every man who has trod a warship's deck,
  And borne a weapon of pride, has a proud heart
  And asks not twice for any little thing.
  Hallgerd, I'll ask no more from you, no more.

      RANNVEIG (_tearing off her wimple_)
  She will not mar her honour of widowhood.
  Oh, widows' manes are priceless.... Off, mean wimple--
  I am a finished widow, why do you hide me?
  Son, son who knew my bosom before hers,
  Look down and curse for an unreverend thing
  An old bald woman who is no use at last.
  These bleachy-threads, these tufts of death's first combing,
  And loosening heartstrings twisted up together
  Would not make half a bowstring. Son, forgive me....

  A grasping woman's gold upon her head
  Is made for hoarding, like all other gold:
  A spendthrift woman's gold upon her head
  Is made for spending on herself. Let be--
  She goes her heart's way, and I go to earth.

  (AUNUND'S _head rises above the wall near_ GUNNAR.)

  What, are you there?

  Yea, Gunnar, we are here.

      GUNNAR (_thrusting with the bill_)
  Then bide you there.

  (AUNUND'S _head sinks_; THORGEIR'S _rises in the same place._)

                        How many heads have you?

  But half as many as the feet we grow on.

  And I've not yet used up (_thrusting again_) all my hands.

  (_As he thrusts another man rises a little farther back, and leaps
  past him into the loft. Others follow, and GUNNAR is soon
  surrounded by many armed men, so that only the rising and falling
  of his bill is seen._)

  The threshing-floor is full.... Up, up, brain-biter!
  We work too late to-night--up, open the husks.
  Oh, smite and pulse
  On their anvil heads:
  The smithy is full,
  There are shoes to be made
  For the hoofs of the steeds
  Of the Valkyr girls....

                        FIRST MAN
                    Hack through the shaft....

                        SECOND MAN
                    Receive the blade
                    In the breast of a shield,
                    And wrench it round....

                    For the hoofs of the steeds
                    Of the Valkyr girls
                    Who race up the night
                    To be first at our feast,
                    First in the play
                    With immortal spears
                    In deadly holes....

                        THIRD MAN
                    Try at his back....

      MANY VOICES (_shouting in confusion_)
  Have him down.... Heels on the bill.... Ahui, ahui....

  (_The bill does not rise._)

      HROALD (_with the breaking voice of a young man, high over all_)
  Father.... It is my blow.... It is I who kill him.

  (_The crowd parts, suddenly silent, showing_ GUNNAR _fallen._
  RANNVEIG _covers her face with her hands._)

      HALLGERD (_laughing as she leans forward and holds her breasts in
        her hands_)
  O clear sweet laughter of my heart, flow out!
  It is so mighty and beautiful and blithe
  To watch a man dying--to hover and watch.

  Cease: are you not immortal in shame already?

  Heroes, what deeds ye compass, what great deeds---
  One man has held ye from an open door:
  Heroes, heroes, are ye undefeated?

      GIZUR (_an old white-bearded man, to the other riders_)
  We have laid low to earth a mighty chief:
  We have laboured harder than on greater deeds,
  And maybe won remembrance by the deeds
  Of Gunnar when no deed of ours should live;
  For this defence of his shall outlast kingdoms
  And gather him fame till there are no more men.

  Come down and splinter those old birds his gods
  That perch upon the carven high-seat pillars,
  Wreck every place his shadow fell upon,
  Rive out his gear, drive off his forfeit beasts.

                        SECOND MAN
  It shall not be.

                        MANY MEN

  We'll never do it:
  Let no man lift a blade or finger a clout--
  Is not this Gunnar, Gunnar, whom we have slain?
  Home, home, before the dawn shows all our deed.

  (_The riders go down quickly over the wall-top, and disappear._)

  Now I shall close his nostrils and his eyes,
  And thereby take his blood-feud into my hands.

  If you do stir I'll choke you with your hair.
  I will not let your murderous mind be near him
  When he no more can choose and does not know.

  His wife I was, and yet he never judged me:
  He did not set your motherhood between us.
  Let me alone--I stand here for my sons.

  The wolf, the carrion bird, and the fair woman
  Hurry upon a corpse, as if they think
  That all is left for them the grey gods need not.

  (_She twines her hands in_ HALLGERD'S _hair and draws her down to
  the floor._)

  Oh, I will comb your hair with bones and thumbs,
  Array these locks in my right widow's way,
  And deck you like the bed-mate of the dead.
  Lie down upon the earth as Gunnar lies,
  Or I can never match him in your looks
  And whiten you and make your heart as cold.

  Mother, what will you do? Unloose me now---
  Your eyes would not look so at me alone.

  Be still, my daughter....

                            And then?

  Ah, do not fear--
  I see a peril nigh and all its blitheness.
  Order your limbs--stretch out your length of beauty,
  Let down your hands and close those deepening eyes,
  Or you can never stiffen as you should.
  A murdered man should have a murdered wife
  When all his fate is treasured in her mouth.
  This wifely hairpin will be sharp enough.

      HALLGERD (_starting up as RANNVEIG half loosens her to take a
        hairpin from her own head_)
  She is mad, mad.... Oh, the bower is barred--
  Hallgerd, come out, let mountains cover you.

  (_She rushes out to the left._)

      RANNVEIG (_following her_)
  The night take you indeed....

      GIZUR (_as he enters from the left_)
  Ay, drive her out;
  For no man's house was ever better by her.

  Is an old woman's life desired as well?

  We ask that you will grant us earth hereby
  Of Gunnar's earth, for two men dead to-night
  To lie beneath a cairn that we shall raise.

  Only for two? Take it: ask more of me.
  I wish the measure were for all of you.

  Your words must be forgiven you, old mother,
  For none has had a greater loss than yours.
  Why would he set himself against us all....

  (_He goes out._)

  Gunnar, my son, we are alone again.

  (_She goes up the hall, mounts to the loft, and stoops beside

  Oh, they have hurt you--but that is forgot.
  Boy, it is bedtime; though I am too changed,
  And cannot lift you up and lay you in,
  You shall go warm to bed--I'll put you there.
  There is no comfort in my breast to-night,
  But close your eyes beneath my fingers' touch,
  Slip your feet down, and let me smooth your hands:
  Then sleep and sleep. Ay, all the world's asleep.

  (_She rises._)

  You had a rare toy when you were awake--
  I'll wipe it with my hair.... Nay, keep it so,
  The colour on it now has gladdened you.
  It shall lie near you.

  (_She raises the bill: the deep hum follows._)

  No; it remembers him,
  And other men shall fall by it through Gunnar:
  The bill, the bill is singing.... The bill sings!

  (_She kisses the weapon, then shakes it on high._)



1. _The Forces in the Play._

What is the "passion"--that is, what exactly do these people
desire who "want their ain way"? What forces favor these desires,
and what oppose them--for instance, David Pirnie's determination
to tell wee Alexander a bit story, in _The Philosopher of
Butterbiggens_? Can you always put any one character altogether
on one side? Or does his own weakness or carelessness or
stupidity, for example, sometimes work against his getting what
he wants, so that he is, in part, _not_ on his own side, but
against it, as Brutus is in _Julius Caesar_? Are there other
forces in the play besides the people--storm or accident or fate?
With what side or what character are you in sympathy? Is this
constant throughout the play, or do you feel a change at some
point in it? Does the author sympathize with any special
character? Does he have a prejudice against any one of them? For
example, in _Campbell of Kilmhor_, where is your sympathy? Where
is the author's, apparently?

2. _The Beginning and the End._

What events important to this play occurred before the curtain
rises? Why does the author begin just here, and not earlier or
later? How does he contrive to let you know these important
things without coming before the curtain to announce them
himself, or having two servants dusting the furniture and telling
them to each other?

What happens _after_ the curtain falls? Can you go on picturing
these events? Are any of them important to the story--for
instance, in _The Beggar and the King_? Why did the author stop
before telling us these things?

Does the ending satisfy you? Even if you do not find it happy and
enjoyable, does it seem the natural and perhaps the inevitable
result of the forces at work--in _Riders to the Sea_ and
_Campbell of Kilmhor_, for instance? Or has the author interfered
to make characters do what they would not naturally do, or used
chance and coincidence, like the accidentally discovered will or
the long-lost relative in melodramas, to bring about a result he
prefers--a "happy ending," or a clap-trap surprise, or a supposed
proof of some theory about politics or morals?

Does the interest mount steadily from beginning to end, or does
it droop and fail somewhere? You may find it interesting to try
drawing the diagram of interest for a play, as suggested in
chapter X of Dr. Brander Matthews's _Study of the Drama_, and
accounting for the drop in interest, if you find any.

3. _The Playwright's Purpose._

What was the author trying to do in writing the play? It may have

Merely to tell a good story To paint a picture of life in the
Arran Islands or in old France or in a modern industrial town To
show us character and its development, as in novels like
Thackeray's and Eliot's (Of course, brief plays like these cannot
show development of character, but only critical points in such
development--the result of forces perhaps long at work, or the
awakening of new ideas and other determinants of character.) To
portray a social situation, such as the relation between workmen
and employers, or between men and women To show the inevitable
effects of action and motive, as of the determined loyalty of
Dugald Stewart and his mother, or the battle of fisher-folk or
weavers with grinding poverty.

Of course, no play will probably do any one of these things
exclusively, but usually each is concerned most with some one

What effect has the play on you? Even if its tragedy is painful
or its account of human character makes you uncomfortable, is it
good for you to realize these things, or merely uselessly
unpleasant? Is the play stupidly and falsely cheering because it
presents untrue "happy endings" or other distortions of things as
they are? Do you think the play has merely temporary, or genuine
and permanent, appeal?



Harold Chapin, as we learn from _Soldier and Dramatist_ (Lane,
1917), was an American both by ancestry and nativity. But he
lived the greater part of his life in England, and died for
England at Loos in April, 1915. His activity was always
associated with the stage. When he was but seven years old he
played the little Marcius to his mother's Volumnia at the
Shakespeare Festival, at Stratford-on-Avon in 1893. In 1911 he
produced Mr. Harold Brighouse's _Lonesome-Like_ and several of
his own short plays at the Glasgow Repertory Theatre. For several
years before the war he was Mr. Granville Barker's stage manager,
and helped him to produce the beautiful Shakespearean plays at
the Savoy Theatre in London.

Of Chapin's own dramas, _The New Morality_ and _Art and
Opportunity_ have been given recently in New York and in London,
and several of the one-act plays at a memorial performance in
London in 1916, in matinée at the Punch and Judy Theatre, and
before the Drama League in New York in March and April, 1921. Of
the shorter plays, mentioned in the bibliographies following
these notes, _It's the Poor that 'elps the Poor, The Dumb and
the Blind, and The Philosopher of Butterbiggens_ have been
given the highest praise by such critics as Mr. William Archer,
who wrote, "No English-speaking man of more unquestionable genius
has been lost to the world in this world-frenzy." These true and
honest dramas represent the English Repertory theatres at their
best in this brief form, and give promise of the great and
permanently interesting "human comedy" which Chapin might have
completed had his life not been sacrificed. In spite of the
simplicity and lightness of the little play here given, there is
more shrewd philosophy in old David Pirnie, and more real
humanity in his family, than is to be found portrayed in many
pretentious social dramas and difficult psychological novels. It
is admirable on the stage, as was shown by the Provincetown
Players last winter. In the memorial performance for Harold
Chapin in London, the author's little son appeared in the part of
wee Alexander.

"Butterbiggens," Mrs. Alice Chapin, the dramatist's mother,
replied to an inquiry as to "what Butterbiggens is or are," "is,
are, and always will be a suburb of Glasgow."

There is little difficulty with the modified Scots dialect in
this play if one remembers that _ae_ generally takes the place of
such sounds as _e_ in _tea_, _o_ in _so_, _a_ in _have_, and so
on, and that _a'_ means _all_. A _wean_ is a small _bairn_,
_yinst_ is _once_, _ava_ is _at all_, and _thrang_ is "thick" or

_Distempered_ means calcimined, or painted in water-dissolved
color on the plaster.


In her notes on the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, which she was most
influential in building up, Lady Augusta Gregory says that it was
the desire of the players and writers who worked there to
establish an Irish drama which should have a "firm base in
reality and an apex of beauty." This phrase, which admirably
expresses the best in the play-making going on to-day, finds most
adequate illustration in the work of Synge, of Yeats, and of Lady
Gregory herself. The basis in reality of such jolly and robust
comedies as her _Seven Irish Plays_ and _New Irish Comedies_ is
clearly discernible. They are in the tradition of the best early
English comedy, from the miracle plays onward; of Hans Sachs's
_Shrovetide Plays_, and of Molière's dramatizations of medieaval
_fabliaux_, as in _The Physician in Spite of Himself_. Lady
Gregory describes in her notes on _Spreading the News_ how the
play grew out of an idea of picturing tragic consequences from
idle rumor and defamation of character. It is certainly not to be
regretted that she allowed "laughter to have its way with the
little play," and gave Bartley Fallon a share of glory from the
woeful day to illuminate dull, older years.

The inhabitants of this same village of Cloon appear as old
friends in other of Lady Gregory's plays, with, as usual, nothing
to do but mind one another's business. In _The Jackdaw_ another
absurd rumor is fanned into full blaze by greed; upon _Hyacinth
Halvey_ works the potent and embarrassing influence of too good a
reputation. Still other plays attain a notable height of
beauty--notably _The Rising of the Moon_ and _The Traveling Man_.
_The Gaol Gate_ tells a story similar to that of _Campbell of
Kilmhor_, with genuinely tragic effect. She has written, besides,
two volumes of Irish folk-history, _Gods and Fighting Men_ and
_Cuchulain of Muirthemne_, which Mr. Yeats calls masterpieces of
prose which one "can weigh with Malory and feel no discontent at
the tally."[1] A writer who has produced such range and beauty of
works, from very human, characteristic comedy and farce to fine,
poignant tragedy, besides writing excellent stories and
contributing largely to an important experimental theatre, is
secure of her share of fame.

The "Removable Magistrate" is apparently one appointed by British
officialdom; this one, having just come from the Bay of Bengal,
is going to fit upon the natives of Cloon methods which may have
worked in a rather different district.

The song "with a skin on it," which Bartley sings, is given in
Lady Gregory's _Seven Short Plays_ (Putnam, 1909).

[Footnote 1: Appendix to _The Poetical Works of William B.
Yeats_, volume II, (Macmillan, 1912).]

_Winthrop Parkhurst_: THE BEGGAR AND THE KING

_The Beggar and the King_ looks at first like a pleasant
absurdity; it is in reality valuable as a short history of the
ostrich method of dealing with realities. The beggar, of course,
continues to cry aloud after his tongue, and even his head, have
been removed, because there are so many millions of him. Again
and again, in the course of history, he has gathered desperate
courage to defy authority that is blind and evil. Always at last,
as in the French and the Russian revolutions and in the more
recent European revolts, he succeeds in wresting the power from
those in autocratic authority. And yet, just as of old, not only
kings, but all others who attempt dictatorship and the playing of
providence, try the simple tactics of the ostrich; they close the
window, or their eyes and ears, as a sufficient answer to
rebellion. Appreciating the futility of these methods, we have no
difficulty in continuing the drama ourselves beyond the fall of
the curtain.

Mr. Winthrop Parkhurst, by birth a New Yorker, according to a
family tradition is a descendant on his mother's side of John
Huss, the Bohemian reformer and martyr, and on his father's of
the executioner of Charles I of England. His writings include
_Maracca_, a Biblical one-act play, and several short satirical

_George Middleton_: TIDES

Mr. George Middleton generally pictures in his dramas problems
which are not easy to solve. And he does not try to give
ready-made solutions. He merely shows us how various people have
tried to work these problems; and his dramas are like real life
because the attempts at solutions fail as often as they succeed.
Certain of the problems Mr. Middleton presents are such as
high-school students meet and can well consider; several of these
plays appear in the lists following. _Tides_ is about a man who
has supported an unpopular theory. Nothing is said about whether
his ideal is right or wrong, but it is clear that he has held to
it in perfect sincerity of belief and has been quite unmoved by
the bitterest persecution. But when he is offered honor and
flattering respect, though he does not really change his belief
and adherence, he compromises and partially surrenders his ideal.
The fable is similar to that of Ibsen's _The League of Youth_,
but the telling here is straighter and clearer. William White's
self-deception is made evident to him and to us by his honest and
courageous wife, who tells him frankly of it. "Haven't you
sometimes noticed that is what bitterness to another means: a
failure within oneself?" she comments wisely. An effective
contrast is furnished by the son, who has altogether and honestly
abandoned his father's theories in the face of new realities as
he sees them.

_Eugene O'Neill_: ILE

Eugene O'Neill, American seaman, laborer, newspaperman, and
dramatist, has been associated for several years with the
Provincetown Players. This group, including Mrs. Glaspell and
other playwrights of importance, gather in Provincetown, on Cape
Cod, during the summer, and in winter present significant foreign
and native plays in a converted stable on Macdougall Street in
New York, where may be seen the ring to which Pegasus was once
tethered! In 1919 Mr. O'Neill received the Pulitzer Prize for the
most important American play of the year.

Mr. O'Neill has had experience of the sea, like the great
Englishmen, Mr. Masefield and Mr. Joseph Conrad. He knows the
interminable whaling voyages, as described in Melville's _Moby_
_Dick_ and the first chapter of _Typee_--best of all in Bullen's
_Cruise of the Cachalot_. Out of this experience of hard life and
harder men he has written many poignant and terrible dramas--perhaps
the greatest this story of the skipper's wife who insisted on
making the voyage with her husband and is worn to the edge of
insanity by months of ice-bound solitude. The motive of Captain
Keeney is like that which caused Skipper Ireson to leave his
fellow townsmen to sink in Chaleur Bay. Against his iron
determination his wife's piteous pleading and evident suffering
are more potent than the mutinying hands; whether she can avail
to turn him home "with a measly four hundred barrel of ile" is
the problem of the play.


This tragic story of the war and hatred in Scotland belongs in
the series of attempts made by Charles Edward Stuart and his
father to regain the throne lost by James II in 1688. "The Young
Pretender's" vigorous campaign in 1745, carried far into England,
might easily have succeeded but for the quarrels and disaffection
of the Highland chiefs who supported him. His failure was
completed at the bloody battle of Culloden, or Drumossie Moor, in
1746, celebrated in Scottish story and song of lamentation.
Scott's hero Waverley went into the highland country shortly
after these uprisings, and David Balfour, in _Kidnapped_, had
numerous adventures in crossing it with Allan Breck Stewart, who
was in the service of his kinsmen, the exiled Stuarts. The hatred
of Campbells and Stuarts, of Lowlander and Highlander, Loyalist
and Jacobite, is intense throughout the record of those days.

The young Scot and his stanch and proudly tearless mother are, of
course, the heroic characters in the play. We have a hint that
Charles Edward Stuart himself is with the band whom the young man
protects so loyally. It may seem strange that the drama is named,
not for him, but for the crafty and pitiless executioner of the
king's justice. But he is after all the most interesting
character in the piece, with his Biblical references in broad
Lowland Scots (we may suppose that the Stewarts speak Gaelic
among themselves), his superstition, his remorseless cruelty. We
should like to see how he takes the discovery that, perhaps for
the first time, he has been baffled in his career of unscrupulous
and bloody deeds!

This play represents the most successful work of the Glasgow
Repertory Theatre in 1914. The author has written no others which
have been published, though he is credited with a good story or
two. It may be hoped that he will write other dramas as excellent
as this one. He has put into very brief and effective form here
the spirit and idea of a most intense period of merciless

A _kebbuck_ is a cheese; _keek_ means peek; _toom_, empty; a
_besom_, a broom; and _soop_, sweep.

_John Galsworthy_: THE SUN

According to Professor Lewisohn and other critics Mr. Galsworthy
is without question the foremost English dramatist to-day.
Without arguing or attempting to offer solutions, he gives the
most searching presentation of problems which we have to face and
somehow settle. In _Strife_, after a furious contest and bitter
hardships, the strike is settled by a compromise which the
leaders of both sides count as failure. Things are much as they
were at the start; the difficulty is no nearer solution. In
_Justice_, "society stamps out a human life not without its fair
possibilities--for eighty-one pounds," because obviously clear
and guilty infraction of law cannot go unavenged. Justice is not
condemned by the facts shown in this play, nor is its working
extolled. In _The Mob_, the patrioteering element destroys a man
who proclaims the injustice of a small and greedy war of
conquest. In _The Pigeon_, brilliant debate is held, but no
conclusion reached, as to what we should do with derelict and
wasted lives, with men who do not fit into the scheme of success
and society.

In his sketches and stories Mr. Galsworthy presents these same
problems, and again without attempted conclusions. _The
Freelands_ particularly is a most dramatic novel of conditions
and results similar to those in some of the dramas mentioned
above. Many of his sketches and essays also--for example, "My
Distant Relative" in _The Inn of Tranquillity_ and "Comfort" in
_A Commentary_--are of biting and almost cynical irony in viewing
proposed and present solutions of problems; but none suggest
panaceas. They merely make us think soberly of the size of our
problems and their immense complexity, move us to go out to look
for more information and to examine carefully our most solid
institutions as well as suggested alterations in them.

A large part of Mr. Galsworthy's time and thought, both during
the war and since, has been given to the problem of some measure
of justice to soldiers, and particularly to wounded and broken
soldiers. In _A Sheaf_ and _Another Sheaf_ appear various papers
presenting sharply the conditions of suffering and neglect that
actually exist. _The Sun_ is a brief sketch of after-war
days,--this time of a wounded man who has gained an advantage
over one who escaped injury,--and of joy in deliverance from the
hell of war--a joy so profound and luminous that the released
soldier cannot let a sharp mischance and disappointment mar his
happiness. The whole piece is in the key of Captain Bassoon's
verses after the Armistice:--

  "Every one suddenly burst out singing."

The other two think the happy soldier mad. We are left wondering
what the reaction will be from this height of joyful release to
the harsh and sombre conditions of workingmen's life after the

The _silver badge_ represents a discharge for wounds. _Crumps_
are, of course, shells.

_Louise Sounders_: THE KNAVE OF HEARTS

_The Knave of Hearts_ is one of the happy tradition of
puppet-plays, which come down in unbroken line from the most
ancient history, through the illustrious Dr. Faustus and Mr.
Punch, to new and even greater favor and fame to-day. For just as
the ancient puppet-shows of Italy and England seemed to be losing
ground before the moving-picture invasion, they have been
heroically rescued by Mr. Tony Sarg,--whose performance of
Thackeray's _The Rose and the Ring_ is perfectly absurd and
captivating,--and by other excellent artists.

Puppet-shows are delightful because they are easily made and
quite convincing. Very good ones have been improvised even by
tiny children, with a pasteboard suit-box opening to the front, a
slit at the top to let down paper-doll actors on a thread, a bit
of scenery, outdoors or in, drawn as background, and a showman to
talk for all the characters. Still better puppets are doll heads
and arms of various sorts, dressed in flowing robes and provided
with holes for two fingers and a thumb of the operator, who moves
them from below. They can be made to dance and antic as you like
on a stage above the showman's head, as Punch and Judy have
always done. The more elaborate marionettes are worked with
strings from above, so that they can open and close their mouths
and otherwise act most realistically; these are, of course, more
difficult, but quite possible to make. In such simple theatres,
Goethe and Robert Louis Stevenson and many other famous people
played themselves endless stories. If you want to pursue this
idea further, a list of references below gives you opportunity
for all the information you like about marionettes and puppets.

_The Knave of Hearts_ is charming, either as a puppet-play or, as
a class in junior high school gave it recently, a "legitimate
drama." The remarks of the manager are all the funnier when
applied to real characters. The play explains clearly the reasons
for the strange behavior of a respectable nursery character. It
is to be published soon in a book of its own with illustrations
by Mr. Maxfield Parrish (Scribner's). The author has written
other plays and stories, some of which you may have seen in _St.
Nicholas_, and also a pleasant operetta, with music by Alice
Terhune--_The Woodland_ _Princess_, listed in the bibliography
following. She is also an actress with the New York Comedy Club,
an excellent amateur organization.

Pompdebile's coat of arms, with a heart rampant (i.e., standing
on its hind legs, however that may be accomplished), reminds one
of the arms suggested for the old clergyman-scholar, Mr.
Casaubon, in George Eliot's _Middlemarch_--"three cuttlefish
sable and a commentator rampant."

_Lord Dunsany_: FAME AND THE POET

Lord Dunsany (Edward Moreton Max Plunkett), the eighteenth baron
of his name, is the author of a number of stories and plays unique
in their type of clever imaginativeness. Besides the inimitable
Five Plays and other dramas listed in the bibliography, his best
writings are to be found in _Fifty-One Tales_, which includes "The
Hen," "Death and Odysseus," "The True Story of the Hare and the
Tortoise," and other highly entertaining matters. _Fame and the
Poet_, originally published in the _Atlantic_, has been recently
produced with good effect by the Harvard Dramatic Club. Fame's
startling revelation to her faithful worshiper of her real nature
and attributes is naturally most distressing--even more so,
perhaps, than the rendezvous which this same goddess appointed
another poet, in the _Fifty-One Tales_: "In the cemetery back of
the workhouse, after a hundred years."

Lord Dunsany was a captain in the First Royal Iniskilling
Fusileers--a regiment mentioned in Sheridan's _Saint Patrick's
Day_--and saw service in Syria and the Near East as well as on
the western front. He was wounded on April 25, 1916, in Flanders.
Since the war he has visited the United States and seen a
performance of his _Tents of the Arabs_ at the Neighborhood
Playhouse, New York City.


Miss Dix is author of several plays--in addition to those from
_Allison's Lad_ included in the play-list, of _Across the
Border_, and, with the late Evelyn Greenleaf Sutherland, of the
frequently acted _Rose of Plymouth Town_. She has also written
several favorite historical stories, including _Merrylips. The
Captain of the Gate_ is a tragedy of Cromwell's ruthless
devastation of Ireland. The determined and heroic captain
surrenders, to face an ignominious death, to keep his word and
ensure delaying the advance of the enemy upon an unprepared
countryside, and his courage inspires exhausted and failing men
to like heroism. This is an effective piece of dramatic

_Percy Mackaye_: GETTYSBURG

Mr. Percy Mackaye has been most active in the movement for a
community theatre in the United States and for the revival of
pageantry. He contends rightly that this development might be one
of the strongest possible influences for true Americanism, and
his dramatic work has all been directed toward such a theatre.
Most notable are his pageants and masques, particularly _Caliban
by the Yellow Sands_, for the Shakespeare Tercentenary; his play
_The Scarecrow_, a lively dramatization of Hawthorne's
_Feathertop_; his opera _Rip van Winkle_, for which Reginald De
Koven composed music; and _The Canterbury Pilgrims_, in which the
Wife of Bath is the heroine of further robustious adventures. Mr.
Mackaye is also translator, with Professor Tablock, of the
_Modern Reader's Chaucer_. The little sketch presented here is
taken from a volume of _Yankee Fantasies_, in which various
observations of past and present New England life are recorded.
Stephen Crane's _The Red Badge of Courage_, a powerful story of
the Civil War, is a most excellent help to realizing what the boy
Lige really endured in those days of battle.

Mr. Mackaye has adopted here a regularly rhythmic verse without
the conventional capital letters at the beginnings of lines
--perhaps to typify the simple homeliness of the talk.

_Harold Brighouse_: LONESOME-LIKE

Mr. Brighouse has been best represented in this country by an
excellent comedy, _Hobson's Choice_, which was widely played and
was printed in the Drama League series of plays (1906). His other
best-known work here is the present play, and _The Price of Coal_
(1909), a picturing of the hard life of miners' wives and their
Spartan firmness in expectation of fatal accidents. He has
produced and published a number of other plays, among them those
listed in the bibliography. Mr. Brighouse represents in this
volume the work of the English Repertory theatres, which parallel
the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, the Glasgow Repertory Theatre, and
various European stage-societies. That at Manchester, with which
he has been associated, is directed by Miss Isabel Horniman, has
seen beautiful stage-settings designed by Mr. Robert Burne-Jones,
and counts among its dramatists such well-known men as Messrs.
Allan Monkhouse, author of _Mary Broome_, a sombre and powerful
tragedy; Stanley Houghton, and Gilbert Cannan. The Liverpool
Theatre has become even more famous through the dramatic work of
Mr. John Drinkwater. The Little Theatre movement in this country,
our Drama League, and the various dramatic societies in our
colleges and cities are our nearest parallel to these repertory

_Lonesome-Like_, Mr. Brighouse's most effective short play, is
written in a modified Lancashire dialect, the speech of the
village weavers and spinners. Many of the words are English of
Elizabethan days and earlier, derived mostly from Anglo-Saxon.

_Gradely_ (graithly) means willingly, meekly or decently; _clem_
means starve; _sithee_ is see you or look you; _clogs_ are shoes
with wooden soles and leather uppers, and _dungarees_, garments
of coarse cotton cloth rather like overalls. _A_ is used
throughout for _I_.

As in many English stories, an extreme and painful dread of the
_workus_, or poorhouse, provides a strong motive force.

_John Millington Synge_: RIDERS TO THE SEA

The work of the Irish Renaissance in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin
reached its most powerful and tragic height in this tragedy,
which Mr. Yeats compared to the Antigone and (Edipus of
Sophocles). Synge at first wandered about Europe, poetizing; it
was Yeats who brought him back to study and embody in genuine
literature the poetry of life among his own people. On the bleak
Arran Islands he lived in a fisherman's cottage, and through the
floor of his room heard the dialect which he presents in simple
and poignant beauty in this drama of hopeless struggle. The
"second sight"--called "the gift" in _Campbell of Kilmhor_, and
an incident also in _The Riding to Lithend_--was a sort of
prophetic vision altogether credited among Celtic peoples, as
among those of Scott's _Lady of the Lake_. When the mother sees
the "riders to the sea,"--her drowned son and her living son
riding together,--she feels convinced that he must soon die. The
sharp cries of her grief and, above all, the peace of her
resignation at the end, after all hope is gone, make this, as a
writer in the _Manchester Guardian_ is quoted as calling it, "the
tragic masterpiece of our language in our time; wherever it has
been in Europe, from Galway to Prague, it has made the word
tragedy mean something more profoundly stirring and cleansing to
the spirit than it did."

The speech of the people is not difficult to understand when you
master a few of its peculiarities. One is the omission of words
we generally include, as in, "Isn't it a hard and cruel man (who)
won't hear...." Another is the common form "It was crying I was."
A few phrases, like _what way_ for how, _the way_ for so that,
_in it_ for here or near, and _itself_ for even, or with no
particular meaning, as "Where is he itself?" The meanings of
other words will be easily untangled.

_William Butler Yeats_: THE LAND OF HEART'S DESIRE

Mr. Yeats's best poetic dramas, and particularly this one,
represent beyond question that "apex of beauty" to which Lady
Gregory spoke of the Abbey Theatre dramatists as aspiring. This
play is not founded on any particular Irish folk-tale. It is
filled with the half-dread, half-envy with which the tellers of
Irish legends seem to regard the fate of mortals bewitched by the
Leprechaun or Good People. It is rich, too, with the music of
beautiful words, without which, Mr. Yeats contends no play can be
"of a great kind." He says too, "There is no poem so great that a
fine speaker cannot make it greater, or that a bad ear cannot
make it nothing."

Mr. Yeats has written broad comedy like Synge's _Shadow of the
Glen_ and Lady Gregory's _Irish Comedies_; his _Pot of Broth_ is
a most clever retelling of an old, comical tale. But it is by his
mystical and poetical plays that he would be judged as playwright
and poet--particularly _Deirdre_, which should be compared with
Synge's _Deirdre of the Sorrows_; _The Unicorn of the Stars_,
written in collaboration with Lady Gregory; _Cathleen Ni
Hoolihan_, a dramatization of the spirit of Ireland; _The King's
Threshold_, a high glorification of the poet's art, with a fable,
based on an ancient Celtic rite, of the hunger strike; and _The
Land of Heart's Desire_, most beautifully perfect of all.

_Gordon Bottomley_: THE RIDING TO LITHEND

"_The Riding to Lithend_ is an Icelandic play taken out of the
noblest of the Sagas," wrote Mr. Lascelles Abercrombie in his
review of the published drama in 1909. "[It] is a fight, one of
the greatest fights in legend.... The subject is stirring, and
Mr. Bottomley takes it into a very high region of poetry, giving
it a purport beyond that of the original teller of the tale....
[The play] is not a representation of life; it is a symbol of
life. In it life is entirely fermented into rhythm, by which we
mean not only rhythm of words, but rhythm of outline also; the
beauty and impressiveness of the play do not depend only on the
subject, the diction, and the metre, but on the fact that it has
distinct and most evident form, in the musician's sense of the
word. It is one of those plays that reach the artist's ideal
condition of music, in fact."

This is high praise; but who, after studying the play, will doubt
that it is deserved? The powerfully moving events of the story
indeed lead up to the climax in a forthright and exciting manner.
The terror of the house-women and the thrall, the fearful love of
Gunnar's mother Rannveig, and the caution of Kolskegg his
brother, who "sailed long ago and far away from us" in obedience
to the doom or sentence of the Thing--all these bring out sharply
the quite reckless daring of Gunnar himself, who braves the
decree. A mysterious and epic touch is added by the three ancient
hags-evidently of these minor Norns who watch over individual
destinies and announce the irrevocable doom of the gods. It was
Hallgerd who broke their thread, representing, of course,
Gunnar's span of life.

The centre of interest, as well as the spring of the action, is
clearly Hallgerd, descendant of Sigurd Fafnirsbane and of

  ... a hazardous desirable thing,
  A warm unsounded peril, a flashing mischief,
  A divine malice, a disquieting voice.

She, and not any superstitious belief in "second-sight" and death
decreed, is the cause of Gunnar's remaining outlawed. She
wrangles about the headdress, not because she particularly wants
it, but to send her husband on a perilous mission to secure it.
She says openly that she has "set men at him to show forth his
might ... planned thefts and breakings of his word" to stir him
to battle. Mr. Abercrombie believes that "She loves her husband
Gunnar, but she refuses to give him any help in his last fight,
in order that she may see him fight better and fiercer." We
should, then, have to suppose that her amazing speech at his

  O clear sweet laughter of my heart, flow out!
  It is so mighty and beautiful and blithe
  To watch a man dying--to hover and watch--

is not for the blow Gunnar had given her when she "planned thefts
and breakings of his word," but is rather, as the lines
powerfully indicate, the exultation of a descendant of the
Valkyrie watching above the battlefields.

Really poetical plays--plays which are both poetic and strongly
dramatic--are indeed exceedingly rare. Mr. Bottomley is one of
the few who have produced such drama in English. For many years
he printed his work privately, in beautiful editions for his
friends; but of late several of the plays have been made
available--_King Lear's Wife in Georgian Poetry_, 1913-15, and in
a volume of the same title, including _Midsummer Eve_ and _The
Riding to Lithend_, published in London last year.

Those who want more stories of this sort will find them in
_Thorgils_ and other Icelandic stories modernized by Mr. Hewlett;
in the _Burnt Njal_, translated by Sir George Dasent, from which
this story itself springs; and in the translations by Eirikr
Magnusson and William Morris, the _Saga Library_--particularly
the stories of the Volsungs and Nibelungs, and of Grettir the

_louvre_--a smoke-hole in the roof

_thrall_--a captive or serf

_bill_--a battle-ax

_second sight_--prophetic vision, as in _Riders to the Sea_ and
_Campbell of Kilmhor_

_fetch_--one's double; seeing it is supposed to be a sign that
one is _fey_ or fated to die

_wimpled_--"clouted up," as Hallgerd expresses it, in a headdress
rather like a nun's. A widow, apparently, might wear her hair



_quean_--in Middle-English, a jade; in Scotch, a healthy lass;
the history of this word and of _queen_, which come from the same
root, is strange and interesting


_Romeborg_--Rome; _Mickligarth_--Constantinople (Viking names)

_Athcliath_--evidently an Irish port


_Markfleet_--a _fleet_ in an inlet of the sea

_mote or gemote_--a formal assembly for making laws

_thing_--assembly for judgment, or parliament; this is an early
Icelandic meaning of the word _thing_


+Thomas Bailey Aldrich+

MERCEDES: A tragic story of the inextinguishable hatreds and
reprisals of the French invasion of Spain in 1810, and of a
woman's terrible heroism.

In _Collected Works_, Houghton Mifflin.

PAULINE PAVLOVNA: Cleverly executed, slight plot in dialogue,
wherein the character of the hero is sharply revealed;
reminiscent of Browning's _In a Balcony_, though with a quite
different scheme.


+Mary Austin+

THE ARROW-MAKER: The tragedy of a noble medicine-woman of a tribe
of California Indians, and of a weak and selfish chief.


+Granville Barker+

Rococo: In which we discover a clergyman and his relatives in
physical altercation over a rococo vase, and follow their dispute
to a determinative conclusion.

Sidgwick and Jackson, London.

VOTE BY BALLOT: A drama of English elections and the forces

Sidgwick and Jackson.

THE VOYSEY INHERITANCE: The inheritance is a dishonored name and
a dishonest business.

In _Three Plays_, Sidgwick and Jackson.

+Granville Barker and Dion Calthorpe+

HARLEQUINADE: Its development from the days of Persephone, Momus,
and Charon is displayed and explained by Alice and her uncle.

Sidgwick and Jackson.

+James Barrie+

THE ADMIRABLE CRICHTON: In the struggle for existence on a desert
island, the family butler provides the brains and safety for an
English family; the party is then rescued, and returns to the
impeccable conventions of London.

Scribner's, New York; Hodder and Stoughton, London.

ALICE SIT-BY-THE FIRE: A mother with keen insight and a
delightful sense of humor has to deal with a serious attack of
romantic imagination in her very young daughter, who feels
responsible for the conduct of the family.

Scribner's; Hodder and Stoughton.

THE OLD LADY SHOWS HER MEDALS: Mrs. Dowie, a charwoman who has
resorted to desperate remedies in order to have some part in the
war, goes through an agonizing crisis of exposure, into real joy
and sharp sorrow. The rich humor of the characters makes this
quite unique among plays of its type.

In _Echoes of the War_, Scribner's.



PETER PAN: A charming fairy drama of the baby from the
Never-Never Land and of his make-believe play with his friends in
the nursery.


THE TWELVE-POUND LOOK: On the eve of achieving knighthood the
hero suffers a startling disclosure which leads him to look
suspiciously for the "twelve-pound look" in his lady's eyes.

In _Half-Hours_, Scribner's.

WHAT EVERY WOMAN KNOWS: As we behold the creation of John Shand's
career by Maggie his wife, who lacks charm, and particularly as
we observe her campaign against a woman fully possessed of charm,
we want to learn "what every woman knows." The secret is


+Lewis Beach+

BROTHERS, A SARDONIC COMEDY: Two "poor whites" quarrel violently
over a worthless inheritance, and then combine in arson to
prevent their mother from getting it: a disquieting and searching
study of depths of shiftlessness and passionate meanness.

In _Fifty Contemporary One-Act Plays_, edited by Frank Shay and
Pierre S. Loving. Frank Shay.

THE CLOD: A powerful drama of the flare-up of a stolid and
apparently unfeeling nature in the flame of the pity and horror
of war.

In _Washington Square Plays_, Doubleday.

+Jacinto Benavente+

HIS WIDOW'S HUSBAND: An absurd comedy of the small gossip and
rigid conventions in a Spanish provincial capital. (Translated by
John Garrett Underhill.)

In Plays, _First Series_, Scribner's.

+Arnold Bennett+

A GOOD WOMAN: A farcical triangular plot with particularly good
comic characters.

In _Polite Farces_, Doran.

THE STEPMOTHER: Satirical presentment of a lady novelist, her
efficient secretary, and her stepson, not to mention the doctor
downstairs; amusing studies in character.


THE GREAT ADVENTURE: Good dramatization of the astounding
adventures of Priam Farll (from _Buried Alive_), who attends his
own funeral in Westminster Abbey, marries a young and suitable
widow with whom his late valet has corresponded through a
matrimonial bureau, and meets other amazing situations.


THE TITLE: A delightful comedy in which several people who have
denounced the disgraceful awarding of English titles have a bad
time of it with Mrs. Culver, who does not propose to let slip the
opportunity of being called "My Lady." You can probably guess
which side wins in the end.


+Gordon Bottomley+

KING LEAR'S WIFE: An episode in King Lear's earlier years, which
throws much imaginative light on Goneril's and Cordelia's later
treatment of their father. Lear's wife herself, as we might have
guessed, is a pathetic figure.

Constable, London; also in _Georgian Poetry_, 1913-15.

MIDSUMMER EVE: Several farm maidservants meet to see their future
lovers' spirits on Midsummer Eve, but see only the "fetch" or
double of one of them, foretelling her death.

In _King Lear's Wife and Other Plays_, Constable.

+Anna Hempstead Branch+

ROSE OF THE WIND: A fairy play of the dancing and allurement of
bewitched slippers, and of other wonders.

Houghton Mifflin.

+Harold Brighouse+

THE DOORWAY: A sharp and cruel picture of unsheltered people on a
freezing night in London.

Joseph Williams, London.

THE GAME: A cocksure and triumphant girl meets more than her
match in an old peasant woman, the mother of the man she wants to

In Three Lancashire Plays, Samuel French.

HOBSON'S CHOICE: In which the eldest daughter at Hobson's plays a
winning game against her tyrannous father and superior-feeling
sisters, using a quite excellent but disregarded piece.

Constable, London; Doubleday, New York.

MAID OF FRANCE: An effective play in which Joan of Arc lays aside
her old hate for the English soldiers, whom she discovers on
French soil again.

Gowans and Gray, Glasgow.


Gowans and Gray.

THE PRICE OF COAL: Picturing the stoical and terrible resignation
to peril of death of old women in the coal regions--and
presenting an unexpected ending.

Gowans and Gray.

+Harold Brock+

THE BANK ACCOUNT: A small but poignant tragedy of the
savings-account which a clerk has counted upon to free him after
many years of drudgery, and which he has entrusted to his stupid
and vulgar and cheaply frivolous wife.

In Harvard Dramatic Club Plays, First Series, Brentano's.

+Alice Brown+

JOINT OWNERS IN SPAIN: The two most refractory inmates of an Old
Ladies' Home have to face and solve the problem of living in the
same room.

Walter H. Baker.

+Witter Bynner+

THE LITTLE KING: A delineation of the cruel suffering and the
dauntless courage of the small Louis XVII; he refuses to be cowed
by the bullying of his keeper or to let a poor boy assume his


+George Calderon+ idealized him meanwhile that her realization of
the altered situation brings an astounding reaction.

Sidgwick and Jackson.

+Margaret Cameron+

THE TEETH OF THE GIFT HORSE: A pleasant farce built about two
huge and hideous hand-painted vases and a charming little old
lady who perpetrated them.


+Gilbert Cannan+

EVERYBODY'S HUSBAND: Three generations of ladies discuss the
individual characteristics of their husbands, but find them,
after all, indistinguishable men.

Seeker, London.

JAMES AND JOHN: They are faced with their invalid mother's
request that they crown many years of tedious sacrifice and
atonement for their father's weak crime by taking him into their
lives again.

In _Four Plays_, Sidgwick and Jackson.

MARY'S WEDDING: Bill's mother tries in vain to dissuade Mary from
the certain and inescapable misery of marrying her drunkard son.
Bill himself settles the problem.


A SHORT WAY WITH AUTHORS: An entertaining farce showing how a
great actor-manager goes about encouraging serious dramatic


+Harold Chapin+

AUGUSTUS IN SEARCH OF A FATHER: He returns from abroad and
discusses with a night-watchman the problem of his search for his

THE LITTLE STONE HOUSE: A mother has denied herself everything to
build a small mausoleum to her dead son, and so Gowans and Gray.

THE AUTOCRAT OF THE COFFEE STALLS: A strange character with an
astonishing history is shown us in the night-light from a
refreshment wagon in London streets.

Gowans and Gray.

THE DUMB AND THE BLIND: A study of a bargeman's family in London
tenements. Mr. William Archer calls this "a veritable masterpiece
in its way--a thing Dickens would have delighted in.... We feel
that the dumb has spoken and the blind has seen."

Gowans and Gray; forthcoming, French, New York.

IT'S THE POOR THAT 'ELPS THE POOR: Of the simple kindliness of
London costermongers and their neighborly help and sympathy.


MUDDLE ANNIE: Of course, it is "Muddle Annie" who helps their
friend the policeman save the more suave and self-satisfied
members of her family from a precious rogue.

Gowans and Gray.

THE THRESHOLD: Tells of a Welsh girl about to elope with a
specious rascal, and of the intervention of her old father, who
is killed in a mine accident.

Gowans and Gray; forthcoming, French.


Chatto and Windus, London.

+Colin Clements and John M. Saunders, translators+

LOVE IN A FRENCH KITCHEN: A comical medieaval French farce.
Jacquinot endures a miserable compound tyranny of petticoats
until matters are brought to a head by cumulative injustice and
the intervention of accident.

In _Poet Lore_ (1917), 28:722.

+Padraic Colum+

MOGU THE WANDERER: Pageantesque and dramatic story of the rise of
a beggar to be the king's vizier, and of as sudden and entire
reversal of fortunes.

Little, Brown.

THOMAS MUSKERRY: The tragic story of a poorhouse-keeper who
repeats Lear's error of letting go his cherished power, and who
suffers as keenly a more humble tragedy.

Maunsell, Dublin.

+Rachel Crothers+

HE AND SHE: A woman's designs win over those of her husband, who
has the greater reputation, a large competitive award for a piece
of sculpture; but she declines the commission in face of nearer
and higher responsibilities.

In Quinn's _Representative American Plays_, Century.

+Windsor P. Daggett and Winifred Smith+

Juliet, as the foremost players of the Italian Comedy of Masks
may have given it in seventeenth-century Paris--with an ending of
their choice. An interesting study in the type.

In manuscript: N.L. Swartout, Summit, N.J.

+H.H. Davies+

THE MOLLUSC: Clever study of a woman who is a mollusc--not merely
lazy, since she is capable of huge exertions to avoid being
disturbed; she finds plenty of opposition to show forth her
powers upon.


+Thomas H. Dickinson+

IN HOSPITAL: A poignant small dialogue of a husband and wife who
meet courageously the threatened shipwreck of their happiness.

In _Wisconsin Plays, First Series_, B.W. Huebsch.

+Beulah M. Dix+

ALLISON'S LAD: A Cavalier lad, about to be shot as a spy, is
seized by terror, but dies bravely, "as if strong arms were
around him."

In _Allison's Lad and Other Martial Interludes_, Holt.

THE DARK OF THE DAWN: Colonel Basil Tollocho spares a boy he has
sworn to destroy in revenge of a great wrong, and is made glad of
his clemency.


THE HUNDREDTH TRICK: Con of the Hundred Tricks takes fearfully
stern measures against possible betrayal of his cause.


+Beulah Marie Dix and Evelyn Greenleaf Sutherland+

ROSE O'PLYMOUTH TOWN: A pleasant play of Puritans and their

Dramatic Publishing Company.

+Oliphant Down+

THE MAKER OF DREAMS: Poetical small play in which love appears
with a new make-up but in the old role.

Gowans and Gray.

+Ernest Dowson+

THE PIERROT OF THE MINUTE: A quite charming tale of Pierrot and
the Moon-Maiden.

In his _Collected Poems_, Lane.

+John Drinkwater+

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: A dramatic presentation of episodes in Lincoln's
life, from his nomination to the presidency to his death.

Sidgwick and Jackson; Houghton Mifflin.

COPHETUA: In which King Cophetua justifies to his court and
councillors his marriage to the beggar maid.

Sidgwick and Jackson; Houghton Mifflin.

THE STORM: An intense but quiet tragedy of a woman who waits
while men search for her husband, lost in a great storm in the

In _Four Poetic Plays_, Houghtou Mifflin; _Pawns_, Sidgwick and

THE GOD or QUIETNESS: The zest of war draws away all the notable
worshipers of the god of quietness, and an angry war-lord slays
the god himself.


X-O: A NIGHT OF THE TROJAN WAR: Trojans and Greeks, lovers of
poetry, fellowship, and justice, carry on ruthless slaughter, and
by irreparable losses strike a balance of exact advantage to
either side.


+Lord Dunsany+

THE GODS OF THE MOUNTAIN: Of seven beggars who wear pieces of
green silk beneath their rags, and by brilliant devices of Agmar,
their leader, contrive to be taken for the gods of the mountain
disguised as beggars--until the real gods leave their thrones at

In _Five Plays_, Richards, London; Little, Brown.

finds an old bronze sword buried in the ground he is tilling, and
henceforward has less interest in the bones of the king's dog,
who is dying.


THE GOLDEN DOOM: A child's scrawl on the palace pavements
furnishes the text for the soothsayers' prophecy of disaster.


THE LOST SILK HAT: Of the embarrassment of a rejected suitor who,
in his agitation, has left his hat in the lady's drawing-room and
dislikes the idea of returning for it.


THE QUEEN'S ENEMIES: They are invited to a feast of
reconciliation in the great banquet room below the level of the

In _Plays of Gods and Men._ Unwin, London; J.W. Luce, Boston.

A NIGHT AT AN INN: A commonplace ancient plot is filled anew with
dramatic terror and a sense of mystery.


+Edith M.O. Ellis (Mrs. Havelock Ellis)+

THE SUBJECTION OF KEZIA: Joe Pengilly, a Cornish villager, is
finally convinced that strong measures toward her subjection are
alone capable of keeping his wife's love, and buys a stout cane.
We learn how he fared in carrying these measures out.

In _Love in Danger_, Houghton Mifflin.

+St. John Ervine+


MIXED MARRIAGE: A tragedy of the violent hatreds of Ulster.


THE ORANGEMAN: A comic study of the petty madness of the same


THE CRITICS: Dramatic critics furiously condemn a play at the
Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Gradually we discover the idea of the
play through their abuse, and at last we recognize it.


JANE CLEGG: A strong and clear-sighted, honest woman has to deal
with a feeble and braggart husband whose foolish crime threatens
to wreck her own and her children's lives.

Sidgwick and Jackson.

+Rachel Lyman Field+

THREE PILLS IN A BOTTLE: Fantastic play of a little sick boy who
gives the medicine that was to have made him strong to feeding
the starved and abused souls of various passers-by.

In _Plays of the 47 Workshop_, First Series, Brentano's.

+Anatole France+

THE MAN WHO MARRIED A DUMB WIFE: A mad and comic farce, in the
tradition of _Pierre Patelin_ and _The Physician in Spite of
Himself_. Judge Botal calls in a learned physician and his aides
to make his dumb wife speak. The result is so astoundingly
successful that he pleads for relief. Finally a desperate remedy
is found.

Translated by Curtis Hidden Page, Lane, 1915.

+J.O. Francis+

CHANGE: The tragic conflict of ideals of two generations which
have grown irreparably apart in social and economic views.

Educational Publishing Company, Cardiff; Doubleday, New York.

+Zona Gale+

THE NEIGHBORS: Kindliness called forth among village people to
aid a poor seamstress who is to undertake the care of her orphan

In _Wisconsin Plays, First Series_, B.W. Huebsch.

MISS LULU BETT: A starved life blossoms suddenly and
unexpectedly. This play, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for 1920,
is stronger and finer work than the author has done heretofore.

Appleton (in novel form).

+John Galsworthy+

THE ELDEST SON: Sir William Cheshire comes to quite different
solutions of similar problems when different individual and class
factors enter into them.


JUSTICE: Mr. Ludwig Lewisohn writes: "The economic structure of
society on any basis requires the keeping of certain compacts. It
cannot endure such a breaking of these compacts as Falder is
guilty of when he changes the figures on the cheque. Yet by the
simple march of events it is overwhelmingly proven that society
here stamps out a human life not without its fair possibilities--
for eighty-one pounds."


THE LITTLE MAN: Brilliant caricature of various national types of
tourist, and absurd apotheosis of the Little Man, of no
particular nation and of insignificant appearance, who proves
quietly capable of doing what the rest discuss.


THE MOB: The reply of the hysterical and "patrioteering" members
of his own class, and of the many-headed rage, to a man who stood
against an unjust war.


THE PIGEON: A discussion of social misfits and mavericks, with,
of course, no attempted panacea or solution.



"Jones: Call this justice? What about 'im? 'E got drunk! 'E took
the purse--'E took the purse, but (_in a muffled shout_) it's 'is
money got '_im_ off! _Justice_!

"The Magistrate: We will now adjourn for lunch." (Act II.)

In _Plays, First Series_, Scribner's, 1916.

STRIFE: In the strike the leaders of the men and of the employers
are stanch against compromise, but "the strong men with strong
convictions are broken. The second-rate run the world through
half-measures and concessions." (Lewisohn.)


+Louise Ayers Garnett+

MASTER WILL OF STRATFORD: A pleasant drama of Will Shakespeare's
boyhood. Compare Landor's "Citation and Examination of Will
Shakespeare for Deer-Stealing."


+Alice Gerstenberg+

OVERTONES: While two women are conversing politely, they are
attended by their real, unconventional selves, who interrupt to
say what the women actually think and mean. Compare Ninah Wilcox
Putnam's _Orthodoxy_ (_Forum_, June, 1914, 51:801), in which
everyone in church says what he is thinking instead of what is
proper and expected.

In _Washington Square Plays_, Doubleday.

+Giuseppa Giacosa+

THE RIGHTS OF THE SOUL: Anna is sternly loyal to her husband
Paolo, but refuses to submit to his incessant prying into her
individuality and questioning of her thoughts and her feelings.

Frank Shay.

THE WAGER: "Sentimental comedy, poetic and graceful, by one of
the greatest contemporary Italian dramatists."

Barrett H. Clark, translator. French.

+W.S. Gilbert+

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN: A most absurd parody on Hamlet,
wherein a lamentable tragedy written and repented by his uncle
the king is unearthed and turned to the sad prince's undoing.

In _Original Plays_, Scribner's.



+William Gillette+

SECRET SERVICE: A most intense situation in Richmond during the
Civil War, ably handled by a quiet and brilliant Northern
secret-service man; weakened by a manufactured happy ending.


+Susan Glaspell+

TRIFLES: Two women, by noting the significant trifles which the
sheriff and the attorney overlook, discover the story of
suffering which led to a crime. Speaking of their neglect of
neighborly kindness, one says, "That's a crime too, and who's
going to punish that?"

In _Washington Square Plays_.

+Lady Gregory+


I. THE TRAGEDIES: Stories of the beautiful and potent queens who
brought suffering upon themselves and upon others; compare
Synge's and Yeats's stories of Deirdre.


defeats the gains of his loyal subjects by his abject and
ridiculous cowardice.


CANAVANS: A covetous miller, his clever wandering brother, and
some pleasant absurdity about the popular worship of Queen
Elizabeth by her loyal subjects in Ireland.


THE DELIVERER: Apparently an Irish peasant's idea of the story of



Comedies full of Irish wit, conscious and unconscious comedy, and
endless complication of events and hearsay in Cloon.

All in _Seven Short Plays_, Putnam.


More about Cloon people, including the rescue of Hyacinth Halvey
from his troublesome reputation and from the place by the magic
and lunacy of moonlight.

In _New Irish Comedies_, Putnam.

DAMER'S GOLD: A fortunate rescue from the torments of miserliness
and pestilent heirs; the author's notes on the origin of the play
are interesting.


THE GAOL GATE: A brief and effective tragic story of two women
who fear that their man has betrayed his mates, but who find that
he has been hanged without informing; the mother improvises a
psalm of praise of his steadfastness.

In _Seven Short Plays_.

THE TRAVELING MAN: A peasant woman who has been befriended by
a mysterious wanderer expects his return so that she may thank
him. She drives away a tramp from her kitchen, and then discovers
who he was.


THE GOLDEN APPLE: Many scenes, some excellent fun; of a search
for miraculous fruit, of a giant who is high and bloodthirsty
only in carefully fostered reputation, and the like matters.


+St. John Hankin+

THE PERFECT LOVER: Delightful dramatic version of Suckling's
"Constant Lover."

In _Dramatic Works_, Seeker.

RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL: The same young man, or his close image,
having managed to be received by his family as a returned
prodigal, calmly puts upon them the question of his future.




+Gerhardt Hauptmann+

THE WEAVERS: Painful presentation of the suffering of the German
weavers in the first adjustments of the Industrial Revolution.

In Dickinson's _Chief Contemporary Dramatists_; also in
Lewisohn's translations, Huebsch.

+Winifred N. Hawkridge+

THE FLORIST SHOP: Rather sentimentalist play of good influences
wafted by a young woman as a florist's clerk; excellent business
combines with the influences.

In _Harvard Dramatic Club Plays, First Series_, Brentano's.

+Hazelton and Benrimo+

THE YELLOW JACKET: The conventions of the Chinese theatre, more
or less faithfully presented, make a quite comical presentment of
an ancient Chinese legend.

Bobbs, Merrill.

+Theresa Helburn+

ENTER THE HERO: A madly fanciful girl fabricates a romance out of
whole cloth, casts a friend as hero, and tells her small world
about it. Even the rough measures the hero has to use to escape
do not succeed in curing her of the habit.

In _Flying Stage Plays, No. 4_, Ahrens; _Fifty Contemporary
One-Act Plays_, Stewart and Kidd.

+Perez Hirschbein+

IN THE DARK: Grim and awful picture of the depths of misery and
starvation in a Ghetto basement. Translated by Goldberg.

In _Six Plays of the Yiddish Theatre, First Series_: Luce.

+Hugo von Hofmannsthal+

MADONNA DIANORA: Fearsome tragedy of the Ring-and-Book sort,
beautifully and poignantly presented.

Translated by Harriett Boas, Badger.

+Stanley Houghton+

THE DEAR DEPARTED: Somewhat precipitate haste for advantage in
dividing grandfather's effects is fittingly rebuked.

In _Dramatic Works_, vol. i. French, New York; Constable, London.

THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT: A mother finds being an "imaginary
invalid" excellent for checkmating her daughter's plans, but
inconveniently in the way of her own.


+Laurence Housman+

RETURN OF ALCESTIS: A modern poetic view of the spirit of
Alcestis returning to Admetus after her sacrifice and rescue.
Edwin Arlington Robinson has also handled this theme lately.


BIRD IN HAND: A pedantic old scholar is mysteriously plagued by
an illusion of faery, but in time conquers the obsession.


BETHLEHEM: A nativity play.


THE CHINESE LANTERN: Pleasantly effective scenes in a Chinese

Sidgwick and Jackson.

+William Dean Howells+


Amusing but somewhat worn farces, several of them introducing the
voluble Mrs. Roberts and her family.

+Henrik Ibsen+

AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE: A scientist who insists on making known,
and setting to work to remedy, the evils and wrongs of his
community has to reckon with the people; compare The Mob, by John

Boni and Liveright.

THE DOLL'S HOUSE: Nora Hjalmar, who has always been petted and
shielded, at last has to face and solve certain difficult
problems for herself. She thus discovers just how much her
husband's love and indulgence are worth. Her solution of the
difficulty is presented, not as necessarily the right thing to
have done, but as what such a woman would do under the

Boni and Liveright.

THE LADY FROM THE SEA: Ellida Wrangel, wife of the village
pastor, feels the call of the sea; she feels she must go with the
rough sailor to whom she was once betrothed. When Wrangel
sincerely offers her liberty to choose, she "seeks the security
of a familiar home, and the wild lure of the great sea spaces can
trouble her no more." (Lewisohn.)

Boni and Liveright.

+W.W. Jacobs and Others+

MATE: Jolly farces of sailors and watchmen and their families,
based on Jacobs's stories in _Captains All, Many Cargoes_, and
the rest.


THE MONKEY'S PAW: A most fearful and gruesome play, based on
Jacobs's story, in the vein of the _Three Wishes_, and the _Foot
of Pharaoh_, by Gautier.


+Jerome K. Jerome+

FANNY AND THE SERVANT PBOBLEM: The new Lady Bantock is surprised
to discover both her real rank and her strange relationship with
her twenty-three servants. An interesting character study.


+William Ellery Leonard+

GLORY OF THE MORNING: The pathos of two civilizations contending
for the children of the Indian woman, Glory of the Morning; they
must go with their father to France or stay with their mother.
Dr. Leonard has newly completed another powerful tragedy, _Red
Bird_, as yet unpublished.

In _Wisconsin Plays, First Series_, 1914, B.W. Huebsch.

+Justin McCarthy+

IF I WERE KING: A romantic play, in the vein of De Banville's
_Gringoire_, in which Villon becomes Marshal of France, for a
brief time and with a fearful condition stipulated by the
spider-king, Louis XI.


+Edward Knoblauch and Arnold Bennett+

MILESTONES: Three different generations, with their different
ideas and ideals, confront similar problems with different views,
and arrive at various conclusions.


+Percy Mackaye+

THE CANTERBURY PILGRIMS: Mr. Mackaye, translator with Professor
Tatlock of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, has written here a clever
play of the travelers' adventures. The Wife of Bath is of course
the ringleader in mischief.


CALIBAN BY THE YELLOW SANDS: A masque for the Shakespeare
Tercentenary Celebration, New York City.


JEANNE D'ARC: A tragedy made up of incidents in the life of the


SAM AVERAGE: A Silhouette. A soldier of 1812 is kept true to the
cause by a vision of Sam Average, the spirit of his nation.

In Yankee Fantasies, Duffield.

THE SCARECROW: A lively dramatization of Hawthorne's Feathertop,
from Mosses from an Old Manse.


+Mary MacMillan+

THE SHADOWED STAR: Portraying the cruel suffering of two Irish
peasant women who wait in a city tenement for Christmas as they
remember it.

In Short Plays, Stewart and Kidd.

+Maurice Maeterlinck+

ARDIANE AND BLUEBEARD: A resolute wife finally defies Bluebeard
and rescues his wives; but they refuse to forsake their
unfortunate and beloved husband.

Dodd, Mead.



Poignant and mystical tragedies expressing the unseen and
inescapable forces surrounding and closing in upon men's lives.

Boni and Liveright; Dodd, Mead.

THE BLUE BIRD: Two peasant children, accompanied by their friends
Dog, Cat, Bread, Sugar, and others, search everywhere for the
blue bird of happiness. They visit among other places the realms
of the dead, where their grandparents are, and of the unborn.
Finally they look in the last and likeliest place.

Dodd, Mead.

THE BETROTHAL: Further adventures of Tytyl.

Dodd, Mead.

+John Masefield+


High tragedies. The great Pompey, defeated by the upstart Ceesar,
is kingly to the end.

Sidgwick and Jackson, London; Macmillan, New York.

THE SWEEPS OF NINETY-EIGHT: A fugitive from an unsuccessful
rebellion achieves a sweeping revenge upon the leaders of the
enemy; amusing comedy.


THE TRAGEDY OF NAN: One of the most poignantly tragic of modern
plays; the mercilessness of weak and selfish people crushes out a
beautiful life.

Richards, London.

+Rutherford Mayne (J. Waddell)+

THE DRONE: An old man by playing craftily at being on the eve of
a great invention lives most comfortably on his brother's means;
but forces accumulate against him and he is threatened with
eviction from the hive.


+George Middleton+

THE BLACK TIE: A play of sharp and quiet suffering, presenting at
a new angle the Southern cleavage of races. The negro classes are
not allowed to appear in the Sunday-school procession, and the
small disappointment is typical of greater deprivations.

In Possession and other One-Act Plays, Holt.

MASKS: An author who has spoiled a good play so that it will "go"
on the stage is called upon by the angry characters, whom he
created and then forced to do as they would not really have done.

In Masks and other One-Act Plays, Holt.

MOTHERS: A mother tries in vain to prevent a young woman whom she
loves from marrying her son and repeating the misery of her own
marriage with a weakling.

In Tradition and other One-Act Plays, Holt.

ON BAIL: A gambler's wife who has shared his illegal gains must
help him pay his debt to the law; their son, too, is involved.


THE TWO HOUSES: An old professor and his wife talk quietly
together of the plans and the realities they have lived among.

In Masks, etc.

WAITING: False conventional ideas have long thwarted, and now
threaten to wreck, the happiness of people who care greatly for
each other.

In Tradition, etc.

+Edna St. Vincent Millay+

ABIA DA CAPO: A fantasy in which Pierrot, Columbine, and the
Grecian shepherds of Theocritus display their varied views of

In Reedy's Mirror: reprinted in Fifty Contemporary One-Act Plays,
Stewart and Kidd, Cincinnati.

+Allan Milne+

THE BOY COMES HOME: A war profiteer has a bad half-hour of
difficulties in getting his soldier nephew to work and live
according to his views; he then faces the problem in reality.

In First Plays, Knopf.

THE LUCKY ONE: The Lucky One fails to win a trick he had counted
on, but his chorus of relatives--surely related to Sir Willoughby
Patterne's--do not even notice the misfortune.


WURZEL-FLUMMERY: Of two men offered a good-sized fortune by a
will provided they will adopt Wurzel-Flummery in place of their
own more satisfactory surnames, and of their decision.


+Allan Monkhouse+

NIGHT WATCHES: A quiet and vivid picturing of the potential
cruelty and frightfulness of ordinary well-meaning ignorance and
terror; the fable reminds one of Galsworthy's "The Black
Godmother," in The Inn of Tranquillity.

In War Plays, Constable, London.

+William Vaughn Moody+

THE FAITH HEALER: A serious drama presenting in moving and human
fashion the effects of faith and disillusion.


+Dhan Gopal Mukerji+

THE JUDGMENT or INDRA: A Hindu play, in which a priest of Indra,
after making a supreme sacrifice of himself and others in order
to root out human affection from his heart, thinks that his god
speaks in the lightning of the storm that ensues.

In Fifty Contemporary One-Act Plays, edited by Shay and Loving.
Stewart and Kidd.

+Tracy Mygatt+

GOOD FRIDAY: A Passion Play. A powerful tragedy of the
conscientious objector.

Published by the author, 23 Bank Street, New York, N.Y.

+Alfred Noyes+

SHERWOOD: A poetical play of Robin Hood and his band.


+Eugene O'Neill+

BEYOND THE HORIZON: The Pulitzer Prize Play, 1920. A tragic story
of a young man who longed to seek romance "beyond the horizon,"
and could find neither that nor any happiness, but only defeat
and misery, in his everyday surroundings.

Boni and Liveright.

BOUND EAST FOR CARDIFF: The injury and death of a forecastle
hand, illuminating the varying natures of his shipmates.

In Moon of the Caribbees, Boni and Liveright.

IN THE ZONE: Suspicion of treachery in the submarine zone,
directed against a sailor who is different from the rest in the


WHERE THE CROSS IS MADE: An old sailor goes mad waiting futilely
for the return of a treasure expedition he has sent out, and the
madness of his idea spreads like panic.


+Hubert Osborne+

carefully burn his surviving plays in the effort to cast oblivion
upon his low occupation.

In Plays of the 47 Workshop, First Series, 1918.

+Monica Barrie O'Shea+

THE RUSHLIGHT: A mother, whose son may be saved if he will betray
his comrades, has only to send him a paper containing the
information the authorities want. Her attitude should be compared
with that of the women in Campbell of Kilmhor and Lady Gregory's
The Gaol Gate.

Drama, November, 1917, 28:602.

+Louis N. Parker+

DISRAELI: Play of intrigue centring about the character of Lord
Beaconsfield and his manoeuvres to obtain control of the Suez


MINUET: A brief play of courage and loyalty in face of Madame

In Century Magazine, January, 1915.

+Josephine Preston Peabody+

MARLOWE: A tragedy introducing several of the Elizabethan
playwrights in tavern scenes, and making a fine and romantic
character of Kit Marlowe.

Houghton Mifflin.

THE PIPER: A pleasant dramatization of the legend of Hamelin

Houghton Mifflin.

THE WOLF OF GUBBIO: A play about Saint Francis and some of his
brothers, both animals and villagers.

Houghton Mifflin.

+Louise Saunders (Perkins)+

THE WOODLAND PRINCESS: Very attractive children's operetta with
music by Alice Terhune.

Schirmer; French.

+Stephen Phillips+

ULYSSES: A drama or masque of Ulysses' adventures, from his
farewell to Calypso through a vigorous combat with the wooers.


+Eden Phillpotts+

THE SHADOW: A most affecting and tragic play of the influence of
a crime upon two people who love most sincerely, and upon their
very loyal friend.

In _Three Plays_, Duckworth, London.

THE MOTHER: A moving presentation of the force of a mother's
sense and love; she refuses to shield her son when he has done
wrong, but works in every way to set him straight and to continue
her influence after her death.


THE POINT OF VIEW: A domestic altercation is arbitrated by a
friend of the family, and then the arbiter is given new light on
the situation.

_Curtain Raisers_, Duckworth, London.

+Arthur Wing Pinero+

THE PLAYGOERS: A farce in which a lady attempts to provide
cultural amusement for her servants, and succeeds in breaking up
the smooth-running establishment.


+David Pinski+

ABIGAIL: A dramatization of a Biblical story from the wars of
David. Translated from the Yiddish by Dr. Goldberg.

In _Six Plays of the Yiddish Theatre_, Luce.

FORGOTTEN SOULS: Fanny Segal's self-sacrifice for her sister and
lover is carried to a strange and morbid extreme.

In _Six Plays of the Yiddish Theatre_, Luce.

+Graham Pryce+

THE COMING OF FAIR ANNIE: A simple but effective dramatization of
the old ballad.

Gowans and Gray.

+Richard Pryce and Arthur Morrison+

THE DUMB CAKE: A St. Agnes' Eve story in a London slum.


+Serafin and Joaquim Quintero+

A SUNNY MOHNING: Two very old people recall the tremendously
romantic happenings of their early youth.

In _Fifty Contemporary One-Act Plays_, Stewart and Kidd.

+Edwin Arlington Robinson+

VAN ZORN: A play of New York studio life in which Van Zorn puts
his own desires out of court and plays providence in the lives of
his friends.


+Santiago Rosinol+

THE PRODIGAL DOLL: A comical marionette sows his wild oats most
violently and repents in deep sorrow.

In _Drama_, February, 1917, 5:15.

+Edmond Rostand+

CYRANO DE BERGERAC: A great play of a swashbuckling hero of the
Paris of Molière's time.

Doubleday; also in Dickinson's Contemporary Dramatists, I,
Houghton Mifflin.

L'AIGLON: The tragic story of Napoleon's son, the little King of
Rome, captive among enemies determined to tame his spirit.


THE PRINCESS FAR-AWAY: The story of the Troubadour Rudel and the
Princess of Tripoli, celebrated in one of Browning's poems,
represents all worship of what is beyond attainment.


THE ROMANCERS: The foolish and romantic notions of two lovers are
ably caricatured by their fathers' plots and stratagems.

Baker, 1906.

+Arthur Schnitzler+

LAST MASKS: A dying man in the Vienna Hospital contrives an
opportunity for the cruel stroke he has intended at a man who has
succeeded where he himself has failed; at the moment of possible
triumph a different mood controls him. There are three excellent
studies of character in the play.

In _Anatol and Other Plays_, Boni and Liveright.

+George Bernard Shaw+

ANDROCLES AND THE LION: The old story of a saint whom the lion
remembered as his friend--with much shrewd light upon certain
types of early Christians.


CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA: New views of the chief characters,
introduced by two interesting scenes--of a garrison in Syria by
night and of Cleopatra in the arms of the Sphinx.

In _Three Plays for Puritans_, Constable.

THE MAN OF DESTINY: Napoleon after Lodi, attacking all courses of
his dinner simultaneously, drawing maps with his fork dipped in
the gravy, and discoursing shrewdly on courage and success.


O'FLAHERTY, V.C.: On a recruiting mission in his own country,
O'Flaherty must account to his mother for his hitherto concealed
crime of fighting not against, but for England.

In _Heartbreak House_, Constable.

AUGUSTUS DOES HIS BIT: A high-born muddler in Britain's conduct
of the war.


+Arthur Shirley+

GRINGOIRE THE BALLAD-MAKER: A translation and adaptation of de
Banville's comedy about another poet than Villon in the hands of
Louis XI.

Dramatic Publishing Company.

+Thomas Wood Stevens+

THE NURSERY MAID OF HEAVEN: "Vernon Lee's" eighteenth-century
legend of Sister Benvenuta and the Christ-Child, in a simple and
effectively dramatic form.

In _Fifty Contemporary One-Act Plays_, Stewart and Kidd.

+Alfred Sutro+

THE MAN ON THE KERB: A workman who has failed in every attempt to
get work or help faces starvation with his wife and baby in a
London tenement basement. No solution of the problem is offered.

In _Five Little Plays_, Duckworth, London.

A MARRIAGE HAS BEEN ARRANGED: Comedy of a rejected proposal for a
society "marriage of convenience," followed by an adjustment of
understanding upon another basis.


+John Millington Synge+

DEIRDRE OF THE SORROWS: A beautiful and poetic dramatization of
the tragic Celtic legend of Deirdre and the Sons of Usna. This
may well be compared with Yeats's dramatization of the same


THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD: Rather fearful comedy of the
popular idolatry offered by Irish peasants to a man who boasts he
has killed his father.


IN THE SHADOW OF THE GLEN: An awesome husband makes a test of his
wife's love.


THE TINKER'S WEDDING: Rather boisterous comedy of a tinker-woman
who upsets ancient custom by insisting on a church wedding.


THE WELL OF THE SAINTS: A gruesome tragedy of a blind beggar and
his wife. All these dramas are as strangely filled with beauty
and poetry of expression as is the Riders to the Sea.


+Rabindranath Tagore+

THE POST OFFICE: "A poetic and symbolic play."


+Anton Tchekhov+


Comical farces of extravagant conversation and action, and
apparently real studies of Russian character.

In _Plays, Second Series_ Scribner's.

+William Makepiece Thackeray+

THE ROSE AND THE RING: One of the most delightful of puppet-plays
is based on the favorite story.

Smith, Elder and Company, London; Macmillan, New York.

+Augustus Thomas+

OLIVER GOLDSMITH: A very engaging play, introducing Burke,
Goldsmith, Garrick in several amusing roles, Dr. Johnson, and
others in his circle, and presenting (in Act II) a dress
rehearsal of _She Stoops to Conquer_.


+Frank G. Tompkins+

SHAM: A SOCIAL SATIRE: Of a most superior burglar, who takes only
genuine objects of art, disdains the imitation stuff that litters
Charles and Clara's home, and reads them a severe lecture on
reality and sham in this and other departments of life.

Stewart and Kidd.

+Ridgley Torrence+

GRANNY MAUMEE: Highly tragic play of the blood-hatred of negroes
for those who have tortured and killed, and of voodoo rites and
miracles; power is given the play by a most human reversal of
feeling at the last.

In _Plays for a Negro Theatre_, Macmillan.

THE RIDER OF DREAMS: A masterful mulatto who keeps his people
obedient to a benevolent despotism.


+Stuart Walker+

THE MEDICINE SHOW: Some amusing characters, shiftless but fertile
of invention, and their device for getting rich.

In _Portmanteau Plays_, Stewart and Kidd.

NEVERTHELESS: A play which has interested high-school pupils and
their friends in Better Speech programmes.


SIX WHO PASS WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL: A quaint and pleasant comedy
of a boy set to watch the lentils cooking, of a queen who is
fugitive from execution for a violation of etiquette, and of
other matters.


+Percival Wilde+

THE TRAITOR: A traitor in the British camp is discovered by a
ruse that is effective and perhaps plausible.

In _Dawn and Other One-Act Plays_, Holt.

+Oscar M. Wolff+

WHERE BUT IN AMERICA? Amusing small comedy in which a Swedish
cook and her fiancé have potent influence in an American

In Mayorga, _Representative One-Act Plays_, Little, Brown.

+William Butler Yeats+

DEIRDRE: The last scene in the tragedy of Deirdre of the Sorrows.


THE GREEN HELMET: Dramatization of a most interesting Gaelic
variant of the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; it
contains good character study.


THE KINO'S THRESHOLD: A poet and singer, deprived of his rightful
honor at the Irish King's court, makes effective use of the
ancient traditional weapon of the hunger strike in order to
secure to his art and its worthy practisers their due recognition.


THE HOUR GLASS: A mystical play of wisdom and folly and the
approach of death.


CATHLEEN NI HOOLIHAN: A moving dramatization of the compelling
spirit of Love of Country.


THE POT OF BROTH: An ancient story, pleasantly dramatized, of a
witty wanderer who plays to his advantage on the credulity,
greed, and love of flattery of a sharp-tongued peasant woman.


+William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory+

THE UNICORN FROM THE STARS: A mystical play of a dreamer's rough
contacts with reality.

Stratford, 1904.

+Israel Zangwill+

THE WAR GOD: Those who sacrifice others to the War God are
themselves immolated on his altar.


THE MELTING POT: A serious play in which the tragic consequences
of race prejudice are realizably and poignantly set forth.



+William Archer+

PLAY MAKING: Small, Maynard and Co.

+Richard Burton+

HOW TO SEE A PLAY: Macmillan.

+Percival Chubb and Others+


+Barrett Clark+


+Payne Collier (attributed)+

PUNCH AND JUDY: London, 1828.

A history of the marionettes in England, illustrated by

+Clayton Hamilton+



+Helen Joseph+


Beautifully illustrated history of the puppet-plays.

+Gertrude Johnson+


+Ludwig Lewisohn+


The best criticism of naturalistic and neo-romantic drama today.

+Karl Mantzius+

volumes: Louise von Sossell, translator. Illustrated. Lippincott.

+Roy Mitchell+


Illustrated with cuts of costume, properties, etc.

+Constance D'Arcy MacKaye+

PLAYS: Holt. Illustrations and directions.

+Constance MacKay+


+Percy Mackaye+

Mitchell Kennerley.

+George Jean Nathan+


+Brander Matthews+

Houghton Mifflin. A most helpful account.

+Charlotte Porter+

FOLK-PAGEANT. Drama, VII, Nos 26, 27. Valuable articles for
reconstructing the Elizabethan plays.

+Maurice Sand+


+Clarence Stratton+

PRODUCING IN LITTLE THEATRES: Holt, 1921. The magazines _Drama,
Poet Lore,_ the _Theater Arts Magazine_, the _Little Theater
Magazine_, and articles in the _English Journal_ are of value.


+H. Caldwell Cook+

THE PLAY WAY: Heinemann. Valuable account of work at the Pearse
School in Cambridge, England.

+Emma Sheridan Fry+


+Alice Minnie Herts+


+Alice Minnie Herts Heniger+


+Margaret Skinner+

SOCIALIZING DRAMATICS: _English Journal_, October, 1920, 9:445.
An excellent account of really educational dramatics.

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